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

Follow DSGJ By Email Here

Monday, February 28, 2011

We Shall be Free, February 28, 2011

“We need freedom, that's all we need, just freedom. I'm 30 years old and I've never known a president, just Gadhafi.” Libyan man (28 February, 2011)

When the last child cries for a crust of bread,
When the last man dies for just words that he said,
When there's shelter over the poorest head,
We shall be free,
Garth Brooks (“We Shall be Free”)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Subjugate: “bring under domination or control, esp. by conquest” New Oxford American Dictionary

As an American, I take my freedom for granted. If you're an American, I'm sure you do as well. But there is another half of this world or more that are subjugated by tyrants, religious leaders, and terrorists seeking power. Ronald Reagan described America as a “shining city on a hill,” a city that those around the world seeking freedom could look to as an object of hope. As citizens of freedom, let's remember what we stand for and that we have a responsibility to ensure our city remains a shining light on a hill, providing hope for the weary and shelter for the helpless. As followers of Christ we have a responsibility to pray for those around the world fighting for their freedom, a responsibility to spread the love of God, not because it makes us powerful, but because it humbles us and provides a freedom no man can. It provides a citizenship to the ultimate shining city that transcends all earthly power.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Emanation of God's Love, February 27, 2011

“Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly love from the soul, and know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation.” Michael Jackson

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

Emanate: “(of something abstract but perceptible) issue or spread out from (a source)” New Oxford American Dictionary

It's Sunday, a day when many people around the world join in fellowship for the common goal of worshiping God together. People will be studying the Word of God and searching for insight and guidance from our Creator. While it is important to dig deeply into God's Word for the edification of our lives, sometimes it is important to step back and start at the beginning. Wherever we look we are surrounded by the results of creation. While we have tarnished it by desiring and ultimately choosing to know good and evil, it still emanates the love of God for us, because creation itself is an emanation of His love for us. Whether it's the luscious beauty of the tropics, the grandeur of Yosemite, or the serene beauty of the deserts; God has created something to stir the passions and awe of every human. 1 John 4:8 says that “God is love,” let's look around and see what His love has done for us.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who Has Your Feet? February 26, 2011

“The greatness of a man's power is in the measure of his surrender.” William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army)

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6

Capitulate: “cease to resist an opponent or an unwelcome demand; surrender” New Oxford American Dictionary

“Once you grab a bird's feet, it's all over. They just give up. You could do it with an eagle.” Said Mike Tyson one time when he was explaining his lifelong hobby and love of raising pigeons. The point is, we're all like birds in that way. It may not be our feet, but we all have some weakness, that if grasped ahold of, can cause our capitulation. For Achilles it was his heal, for others it may be alcohol or prescription drugs. But there is one way to guard ourselves from being captured by our weaknesses. That is to surrender to our maker and His purpose for our lives so He can guard them. God says “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,” and once He Has us He promises to take care of us. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plan's I have for you... Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Let's make sure God has ahold of our feet so that nothing else can, and in doing so, we can be blessed with His promises, not the empty lies so much of the world offers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Up-Love, February 25, 2011

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." Dr. Seuss

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

Affection: “the act or process of affecting or being affected” New Oxford American Dictionary

In selling, there's an idea called up-selling. It subscribes to the idea that you can make more money and possibly attract more customers, not by deliberately trying to attract more possible clients, but by offering more and better services to your current clientele, usually at little or no extra charge. In doing so, the client is so impressed by the service they're receiving, they naturally want to buy more things from you and also recommend you to others. It's a tried and true method of selling, but what if we used the same method in loving? We know that love changes both its giver and receiver, but it can be hard at times to spread your love to people you've never met and do not know. What if we up-loved? What if we offered more and better love to the ones we already love? Couldn't that create an environment where love is reciprocated back to us and a situation where are hearts are filled with more abundant and better love? If we were filled with abundant love, couldn't that make more love available for others we may not know or have ever met? The idea of up-loving, to use a cliché, “kills two birds with one stone.” We increase the love we have in our lives and increase the love we can share with others. Let's try to up-love in our lives starting with God and see what can happen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Jocular Life with God, February 24, 2011

It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.” Oscar Wilde

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Psalms 126:1-3

Jocular: “fond of or characterized by joking; humorous or playful” New Oxford American Dictionary

Often Christians are characterized as being serious about everything, there isn't much room for being jocular or maybe even happy. That is not how God intends for his followers to be. Yes, there are times when we have to take life and our walk with God seriously, but accepting the Spirit of God can make us happier than we ever though possible. He is capable of blessing us in more ways than we can imagine. Imagine living a life in such a way, when other people see us, they'll say, “Wow God has blessed them.” But there's nothing we can do to live life that way except to accept His love and the grace of Jesus, after that, He'll do the rest .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strength in God, February 23, 2011

The shell must break before the bird can fly.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Farouche: “sullen or shy in company” New Oxford American Dictionary

There's a saying that goes, “Everyday, do something that makes you uncomfortable.” The truth is, we all have a shell we need to break free of, we're all scared of something, and we all lack strength in ourselves. The amazing thing about God is that He has no intention for any of His believers to be weak. With Him we're assured of the greatest strength mankind has ever known. So if you trust in yourself, learn to trust in God, if you doubt yourself, trust in God, if you need strength, it is in Him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adventitious Achievement, February 22, 2011

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliot

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11

Adventitious: “Happening or carried on according to chance rather than design or inherent nature” New Oxford American Dictionary

Wendell Scott won hundreds of races in NASCAR's low level leagues during his first years of racing. He went on to drive in NASCAR's highest level of racing and routinely finished in the top 15 in points during a season and in the top 10 at races. Despite some confusion (most think it was deliberate) he won the 1963 Speedway Park race in Jacksonville. It was the peak of his accomplishments throughout his racing career. Wendell Scott was undoubtably a talented race driver, having accomplished all he did with old, used, and inferior equipment, but it was not the races he won or the places he finished that define his career. He became one of the most appreciated and well liked drivers in all of NASCAR, yet he was always the underdog. Wendell Scott is still the only black driver to win in NASCAR's elite series. Despite all the setbacks and disadvantages he faced in an almost completely white sport, during some of the darkest times during the era segregation, his determination earned him what most drivers could only dream of. It showed what character could accomplish and through it, he won the respect and admiration of so many people for himself and for his race. He broke down the walls of segregation in many people's hearts and showed that people are valuable no matter what the color of their skin. We can all look to Wendell Scott as an example of how determination and a strong character can help anyone achieve their dreams, no matter what their challenges. While determination alone may not earn us what we desire, it eventually leads to success, if only adventitiously.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Perspective, February 21, 2011

A flower is a weed seen through joyful eyes.” Jonathan Lockwood

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:8-9

Perspective: “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When Derek Fisher asked to be released from his contract with the Utah Jazz and then signed with the LA Lakers, many basketball fans, especially Jazz fans, were skeptical about his motives. Many, no doubt, saw him as a traitor just wanting to be on a different team. All they could see was their star point guard didn't want to be on their home team anymore and wanted to move back to LA to play with Kobe Bryant for another championship. With that kind of perspective, it's very easy to make opinions about his character and integrity; with that kind of perspective it's easy to even grow hatred for someone. When President Barack Obama was asked why some people hate him, he responded, “because they don't know me.” It's sad that people form opinions of others based on what they see on TV or hear in a rumor. If people knew half the people they hate, there would be approximately half the hatred in the world today. If people knew that Derek Fisher asked out of his contract with the Utah Jazz to move to LA to have his daughter be close to cancer specialists because she had a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma and that he was moving with no guarantee to play basketball; if they understood that he was sacrificing his career because of his daughter's needs, they may not have been so skeptical of his motives. Let's try to understand and see the other side of everyone's story before we let hatred form for them. I don't think any of us have a friend or family member that we would consider perfect, but we don't hate them. Why should we hate someone we don't know just because they may not be perfect in our own eyes from our own perspective?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Perspective from God, February 20, 2011

God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.” J.G. Holland

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

Dole: “a charitable gift of food, clothes, or money” New Oxford American Dictionary

Isn't it amazing how God can take things that aren't necessarily good and make them something that is valuable? Thorns on a rose bush are a nuisance, but they also preserve the beauty of their flowers by protecting the bush from animals that would destroy them. Clouds hide the sun and it's vitamin D-giving-rays, and their rain can cause mudslides and floods; but it results in the flora and fauna that makes the world a beautiful place to live. In the same way, hard work can make our muscles sore and stretch our mental capacities, but it provides a satisfaction that little else can match. Faith in God makes everything purposeful and puts everything into perspective. With Him the worst of situations are illuminated with the light of hope. Without Him, all the possessions and accomplishments in the world are empty and worthless. Let's put our trust in God, that He can bless us with more happiness than any of our efforts could ever achieve and see what He will provide. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Search for Redemption, February 19, 2011

As I come clean
I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Did I say that I need you?
Oh, Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean
Nothing you would take everything you gave.
Hold me till I die
Meet you on the other side

Pearl Jam (from the song “Just Breath”)

LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy; 

in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.

Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground; 

he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead. 

So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.

Psalms 143:1-6

Redemption: “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil” New Oxford American Dictionary

The two poems I chose for this message relate the unending need of humans to be loved, even when it is undeserved. In humility they call out for grace, forgiveness and compassion. In our search for redemption there is one we will hurt more than any person can be hurt, one that loves us more than any person can love, and one who cares more than any person can care. After we insulted Him, doubted Him, and hated Him, He came so that we could kill Him and He could say to us. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
Matthew 11:28 Thank you Jesus.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You Can't Take It Back, February 18, 2011

Fools live to regret their words, wise men to regret their silence.” Will Henry

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Aspersion: “an attack on the reputation or integrity of someone or something” New Oxford American Dictionary

I'm sure we have all heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” There could hardly be an untruer phrase. Bones heal in a matter of weeks, cuts heal in a matter of days, but words can wound in a way that may never heal. Words can lead not only to emotional wounds but physical, and they can cast aspersions not only on the person their intended for, but also the one who intends them. The world is full of beautiful women who believe they're unattractive and strong men who are too afraid to stand up for themselves because of schoolyard insults. Countless marriages are dissolved because two people who once loved each other more than anything they could ever imagine forgot to speak kindly to each other. Thankfully kind words can last a lifetime as well. The encouraging word of an elementary school teacher has been the driving force behind many accomplishments; and eulogies are full of the affects of kind words spoken by the eulogized. But I've heard it said, “it takes nine kind remarks to make up for an insult.” The words we speak really can't be taken back and they are more effective at communicating our feelings than we want or believe them to be. Whatever is in our hearts will eventually spill out. Let's resign ourselves with the help of God to foster love in our hearts so that whatever spills out will emanate kindness. And let's not forget to hold back the kindness we have inside.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Consider the Source, February 17, 2011

"Be somebody who makes things happen. How? In the words of a famous shoe manufacturer:" "Just do it!"  
Glenn Van Ekeren

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.   Psalm 119:130

Detractor: “a person who disparages someone or something” New Oxford American Dictionary

Life is full of criticisms, blame, and mockery; and it is easy to be deeply affected by them. Christians sometimes get made fun of for their faith, leaders are often criticized for their decisions, and everybody is blamed for something during their lives. All these things can tend to tear our spirits down and cause us to hide away our skills, knowledge, and beliefs in order to guard our feelings. But there is a way to guard our spirits that is productive and conducive to responsible living. “Consider the source,” is a phrase many of us have probably heard, but I don't know if we all take it to heart. Often the sources of criticism and mockery don't have the slightest clue of what they're talking about and the realization that a certain judgement has no merit makes it's value insignificant. At the same time however, it is also important to identify sources that do carry a certain weightiness. We all will make mistakes and do things that aren't exactly advisable, especially if we strive for greatness. It's imperative that we have a source that is edifying to our thoughts and actions. No one gains much success without a mentor and leaders around the world tell of its value. In life, let's do our best to ignore what would be detractors and replace them with valuable mentors, and in doing so, lay a path for ourselves that is upward-leading instead of downward-drawing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inconspicuous Achievement, February 16, 2011

Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
 George Dana Boardman

You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25

Conspicuous: “standing out so as to be clearly visible” New Oxford American Dictionary

It is sad that society and human nature as a whole generally requires recognition in order for something to be counted as worthwhile.  If a president eliminates needless hunger and poverty without recognition but publicly fails to unite political parties they may be seen as ineffective and as a failure.  But there are countless things that make our lives better, such as electronic devices, medicines, and knowledge that are not widely attributed to a particular person.  In general most people have heard of the Biblical contributors such as Paul, or David, or the writers of the gospels.  But there are many passages in the Bible who's author is unknown.  Many of the Psalms were not written by David but by unknown authors.  Even though we may not know their names, their work remains invaluable.  You may have noticed the word "inconspicuous" happens to be a much more popular word than it's derivative "conspicuous."  It's because accomplishments are seldom granted the recognition they deserve.  It is doubtlessly discouraging to work hard at something that comes from the heart and is meant to improve society and remain inconspicuous.  But if an inspired writer of the Bible can go without recognition I think we can handle doing our part to make the world a better place without acknowledgement.  After all, anonymity can be a blessing at times, ask any celebrity who cannot escape the paparazzi. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unrequited Love, February 15, 2011

Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style some day. Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker, wherever you're going I'm going your way. 
Two drifters off to see the world. 
There's such a lot of world to see. We're after the same rainbow's end-- 
waiting 'round the bend, my huckleberry friend, Moon River and me. Johnny Mercer

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Unrequited: “(of a feeling, esp. love) not returned or rewarded” New Oxford American Dictionary

There is no better feeling than when another person who knows you better than any other accepts you and loves you. There are few feelings worse than when a person who knows you better than any other, rejects you and your love. These are the emotions that can be produced in marriage and relationships. Humans have an innate desire and hope to find a soulmate they can relate to, love, share their lives with, and adventure with. Yet so many times our love goes unrequited and our spirits are dashed at the shore of our “Moon River.” But there is one who knows us better than any person can, accepts us unconditionally, and loves us no matter what we do, or have done. Unfortunately His love for us many times is not reciprocated. In fact, it is impossible to requite God's love for us. When we think on the Cross and what God sent his only begotten Son, Christ to do for us, it is unbelievable and consuming. Today our hearts might be breaking, or they might be celebrating as a result of human relationships, but as Gold is often used as a hedge against market investments to protect our monetary savings, it is imperative that we hedge our love with the love of God, so that no matter what happens to us here on earth our spirits cannot be destroyed.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day, 2011

"I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Martin Luther King Jr.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Proclivity: “a tendency to choose or do something regularly; an inclination or predisposition toward a particular thing” New Oxford American Dictionary

Legends abound about who St. Valentine was, why exactly he was executed, when he actually died. One common belief is that as a priest, he continued to marry couples even after Emperor Claudius II outlawed the practice because he believed single men make better soldiers than married men. Another belief is that he was killed for trying to help Christians escape from Roman prisons. Whatever the story, St. Valentine is known for losing his life defending love. How much could this world be changed if people developed a proclivity for love instead of rivalry, distrust, and hate? Like Dr. King, we could do so much good for ourselves and society by letting go of the burdensome load of hate and grabbing hold of the uplifting forces of love. Today is a great day to start.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heavenly Diaspora, February 13, 2011

I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” Bob Hope

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3

Diaspora: “the dispersion of any people from their original homeland” New Oxford American Dictionary

They called him “the peach man,” they called him “the wood man,” I call him uncle Jerry and he will always be known as a kind man. Recently my uncle Jerry passed away at the age of 71. He was not the oldest man, but his years were a great service to anyone who had the chance to know him or come in contact with his infectious personality. Whether he was selling you peaches, firewood, or just talking, he had an impact. A car accident when he was young left him unable to work for most of his life due to epilepsy, and as a result, his favorite phrase he would leave you with was always “don't work too hard, I ain't gonna do nothin'.” Of course when he could work, my uncle Jerry was known for his integrity on the job, and he encouraged a strong work ethic. But he knew something about life that many overlook. While hard work is essential, it is not the meaning of life. It is also important to have fun, laugh, and love. I will miss my uncle Jerry and the joy he brought to my life whenever I was around him. But I know he is in the hands of our Heavenly Father and I can't wait to be in heaven with him, where we won't work too hard and at times, probably won't do anything. I know we all have someone we look forward to seeing again and probably many, but it's comforting to know that we are all part of the diaspora from our maker and will in time be rejoined in our homeland free to have fun, laugh, and love more than at any time we'll ever know on earth.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Revenge of the Driven, February 12, 2011

People are more easily led than driven.” David Harold Fink

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

Venal: “showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery” New Oxford American Dictionary

It was a monumental event in history when Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak relinquished his power and gave up his presidency. Nearly 30 years ago he came to power after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, his predecessor. His presidency began with good will, and he lead the people of Egypt to peace within the region. But as the saying goes “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And so as his leadership stretched beyond the normal shelf life of a chosen leader Mubarak found himself having to drive his citizens more and more and his corruption grew with it. Finally his power could not carry the weight of his own fraudulence, and after 18 days of protests by the people of Egypt, he had no choice but to yield to their strain. But now that the people of Egypt were able to ouster their leader, there is an even greater responsibility and role for them. Each person must decide to do what is best for the person next to them, not necessarily what is best for them, so that all Egyptians will have equal opportunities within their country and peace will continue in their part of the world. Let's pray that as a people, they are not swayed by the venality of their personal desires and stand for peace within their country, peace with the world around them, and goodwill for their neighbor. And while we pray for that, let's not forget to ask for the same qualities in ourselves.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tough, Competent, February 11, 2011

Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.Alex Karras

He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might. Isaiah 40:29

Competence: “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently” New Oxford American Dictionary

Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been in design, build, or test. Whatever it was, we should have caught it. We were too gung ho about the schedule and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we. The simulators were not working, Mission Control was behind in virtually every area, and the flight and test procedures changed daily. Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, ‘Dammit, stop!’ I don’t know what Thompson’s committee will find as the cause, but I know what I find. We are the cause! We were not ready! We did not do our job. We were rolling the dice, hoping that things would come together by launch day, when in our hearts we knew it would take a miracle. We were pushing the schedule and betting that the Cape would slip before we did.
From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: ‘Tough’ and ‘Competent.’ Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write ‘Tough and Competent’ on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.”
These are the words spoken by Gene Kranz to his mission control team the monday after the fire of Apollo 1 killed all three of it's crew members. I couldn't dream of improving upon his point so I won't try. But what if we made the words, “Tough and Competent” our motto?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Ultimate Paragon, February 10, 2011

“What people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise.” Barbara Jordan

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Genesis 28:15

Paragon: “a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality” New Oxford American Dictionary

In its right talon it holds an olive branch, in its left are 13 arrows. Its breast is guarded by a shield of red white and blue, and in its beak is a banner carrying the latin phrase, E pluribus unum (out of many, one). It is the symbol of the United States of America, a Bald Eagle, a symbol of freedom and hope to millions throughout the world. Its olive branch represents an offering of peace to any who will accept, but its arrows symbolize its readiness to use force against any who threaten what it represents, and it is protected by by a shield proudly displaying the colors of the country of its origin. The founders of this country fought and argued over what its national symbol should be. Much thought went into its design and symbolism and I think it beautifully states what the United States should endeavor to emulate. I have a question though. What would our seal look like? If a peer were to draw up a symbol that embodied what our lives represent, would it carry the virtues we desire others to see, would it represent anything at all? All of our lives are meant to represent something whether we want them to or not. Let's make sure what other people see in us represents something greater than what we alone can accomplish. We have a Heavenly Father that is always as good as His promise, and while as humans we will never be paragons of what we represent, I believe we should try our best to live up to our promise.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Idyllic Dream, February 09, 2011

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. Galatians 3:28

Idyll: “an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene, typically an idealized or unsustainable one” New Oxford American Dictionary

When Lincoln spoke the Gettysburg Address, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his Dream speech, they spoke not of an idyll dream but a future reality. We may never see an end to oppression and misery on this earth, but we all can look forward to a day when we will be transcended from this world and delivered blameless before our Lord. When that time comes, there will be no more wars (just or unjust), there will be no more hatred, and there will be no more sorrow. Until that time comes, let's do our best to banish from our hearts the things that cause the injustices we see in the world today and pray that God fills our hearts with His love for all humanity and creation. There is no better way to show we care for our fellow citizen than to let the love of God shine through us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living with Destiny, February 08, 2011

The Lord has promised good to me.
 His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.” John Newton (from the song “Amazing Grace”)

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Kismet: “fate; destiny” New Oxford American Dictionary

Patrick Doughtie's son Tyler lost his battle with cancer in 2005. He was only nine years old when he died, but his life is a testament to what a person can do in only a few years when God's purpose is working through them. Tyler's strength and courage inspired his dad Patrick to write a screenplay based on his story, called “Letters to God.” In 2010, the movie was released and through it Tyler has been touching hearts ever since. Patrick admits the “letters to God” part was his own creative idea he thought would be neat to incorporate into the movie. But while the movie was being made three years after Tyler had passed away, Patrick found himself looking through some of Tyler's things, he came across a notebook and started flipping through the pages, reading little things Tyler had written about various people and events in his life. Then he flipped to something he never expected, a letter to God. The movie took on a whole new meaning to him from that point on. It's amazing what God can accomplish through our lives when we let Him lead. Whether we're eight years old like Tyler Doughtie or 80, God wants to work through our lives to do amazing things. Let's let him. And let's pray for all those families that are struggling with illnesses and facing losses. There are millions of people going through hard times right now, let's not forget them and pray for God's work to be evident in their lives as well as ours.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finding Motivation, February 07, 2011

When I quote others I do so in order to express my own ideas more clearly.” Michel de Montaigne

We love Him because He first loved us.
 1 John 4:9-10

Axiom: “a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true” New Oxford American Dictionary

When the Packers and the Steelers won their respective division championships, I have no doubt players on both teams were elated. The win gave them a chance to play in the biggest game of the season, Super Bowl XLV, for the chance to be named the best team in the National Football League. But only one team can win, so what was happiness to be playing for some was turned to misery by defeat. And so it is for everyone, moments of complete joy are offset by sorrow and moments of victory by defeat. But for every negative emotion and every failure, there are reminders that happiness and accomplishment are just around the corner. That's why I chose today's quote. There is a Chinese proverb that states. “Good sayings are like pearls strung together.” And the French moralist Joseph Joubert once said, “Proverbs may be said to be the abridgment of wisdom.” Whatever our mood, whatever our predicament, it is good to realize there are sources of wisdom that can help lift our spirits and enlighten our minds. That's why I chose today's Bible verse, it is an axiom that gets to the heart of our relationship with God and the greatest motivation for life; that is love. Like Zig Ziglar says, “If you're somebody to anybody, you're somebody.” We're all somebody, let's remember that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Life's Super Bowl, February 06, 2011

I love coaching football, and winning a Super Bowl was a goal I’ve had for a long time. But it has never been my purpose in life. My purpose in life is simply to glorify God. We have to be careful that we don’t let the pursuit of our life’s goals, no matter how important they seem, cause us to lose sight of our purpose. I coach football. But the good I can do to glorify God along the way is my real purpose.” Tony Dungy

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:21

Epoch: “a period of time in history or a person's life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics” New Oxford American Dictionary

Today millions of people will watch one of the great sporting events ever devised in human history, the Super Bowl. Two teams that have proved themselves over the past 19 games to be the best the National Football League can offer will pit their skills and abilities against each other in the hope of raising the Lombardi Trophy as champions. The goal of every team in the NFL is to play and win this game, but only two can earn the opportunity and only one will succeed. The Super Bowl is the pinnacle game in any football season and an epoch moment in every players life. It would be a safe bet that every player dreamed of participating in a Super Bowl from the time they were old enough to understand the sport. Yet so few who dream of it will ever have the opportunity. But we all have an opportunity to be part of something far greater than the National Football League or it's crown jewel the Super Bowl. We are all part of life and have opportunities to make every day epoch if we choose. Let's decide like Tony Dungy, to live for a higher purpose and earn significance through that. That way, whatever we accomplish in life will represent something so much greater than ourselves.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Golden Rule, February 05, 2011

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” Coach John Wooden

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

Solicitous: “characterized by or showing interest or concern” New Oxford American Dictionary

History is full of stories about people rising against despotic leaders to gain their God given rights as citizens of this world. Recently we've seen the people rise up in Africa and the Middle east to fight for their futures. History has seen democracy and freedom rise from the downfall of selfish rule at the hands of selfless leadership. As people, it is our responsibility to try and improve the world around us. In life let's do our best to be solicitous and live by the rule that sums up the Law and the Prophets. In so doing we will surely strengthen our bonds with our fellow people and Heavenly Father. Let's pray that the people fighting for freedom around the world will find what they seek and deserve and that their dictators will not be replaced by people seeking power but by people seeking to impart it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Greatest Letter, February 04, 2011

Man is a knot into which relationships are tied. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Flight to Arras, 1942, translated from French by Lewis Galantière)

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Correspondence: “communication by exchanging letters with someone” New Oxford American Dictionary

The Bible has long been regarded by christians as the ultimate guide for life. It's the ultimate “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” But there is another purpose to the the Bible that is perhaps more important than that. The Bible is God's method of showing us who He is. It gives us a way to see God and be inspired by Him. As humans we do not leave the people we love very long without corresponding with them. Multi billion dollar industries have been created just so people could communicate with each other while being separated. When Adam and Eve first sinned and became as the serpent said in Genesis 3:5 “like God, knowing good and evil” God physically left us. I can't presume to know God's motives, but I think He had to leave us to avoid fostering a rivalry between Himself and His creation. But God loves us more than we will ever know in this life; He could not, would not, and did not leave us without His correspondence. In every story we see in the Bible there isn't just wisdom on how to act, but God saying to us, “this is who I am, I know you're all gonna do this stuff and this is how I feel about it and how I react to it and no matter what, I still love you.” His Word is there to comfort us when we're sorrowful, to give us wisdom when we falter, and to inspire us when our hope fails. No matter who we are, or what we've done we all have “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” All we have to do is accept Him as a friend.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Living with Reliance, February 03, 2011

We are never defeated unless we give up on God.” Ronald Reagan

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil. Proverbs 1:33

Reliance: “dependence on or trust in someone or something” New Oxford American Dictionary

Lincoln once remarked that, “[he] would be the greatest fool on this footstool called earth, if [he] ever thought that for one moment [he] could perform the duties of [his] office without help from one that is stronger than all.” Many believe Lincoln to be the greatest president in United States history, yet there are so many who believe faith in an unseen God to be reckless if not down right foolish. In times of difficulty, let's all try to remember Lincoln; while leading this country through some of the most difficult times it has ever known, he was not afraid to rely on the almighty, because it gave him the courage to carry on with tasks never asked of anyone before him or since. In that light, why should we hesitate to trust in God in whatever we do? I don't think there are many who would call Lincoln a foolish man, so let's not take it seriously when anyone tries to label us as foolish for following his example. We can all be great, God promises that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Are Representatives, February 02, 2011

I believe my words will be heard by many, so I want to say only good things.” Chief Joseph (paraphrased)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Attache: “a person on the staff of an ambassador, typically with a specialized area of responsibility” New Oxford American Dictionary

There's a story, I don't know how true it is but I think it's teaching anyway. It tells of Alexander the Great confronting one of his soldiers who had acted cowardly in battle and ran away. When Alexander asked him for his name, the soldier replied, “Alexander.” At this, Alexander the Great was taken back. He told the soldier to either change his ways or change his name. As Christians, we are representatives of our faith, everyday, all day, wherever we go, and whatever we do. We are attache's for Christ and the Christian faith, and as such we should be mindful of our actions and words so that they reflect our values accurately and do justice to the name Christian. I would never encourage anyone to rid themselves of the name Christian, but if we're not acting in a way that sheds positive light on that name we have the responsibility to change our ways. The good news is, we have a loving Heavenly Father who is willing and ready to change our hearts and in turn change our ways; all we must do is ask.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mentors and Pedagogues, February 01, 2011

Innovation has a tendency to slow down, so I’m constantly learning and listening to others.” Dan Cathy

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. Job 32:8-9

Pedagogue: “a teacher, [especially] a strict or pedantic one” New Oxford American Dictionary

He told me how he always opened his meetings by listing all of the mistakes he’d made that week. I thought that was genius. It says to people that if it’s okay for a CEO to mess up, then it’s okay for them to mess up. And that allows for creativity.” These words of wisdom were given by Bernie Marcus while giving Dan Cathy the COO of Chick-fil-A a private tour through the company he helped create, Home Depot. I think there are a couple things we can all learn from this story. One, it's always helpful to seek the advice of others no matter who you are or who they are; and two, leadership is always aided by humility. Mistakes are the pedagogue of everybody, but if we seek wisdom and knowledge through the mentorship of others and especially God, we can avoid many of the pains that come with life. Learning is a fact of life, so let's try to learn from the gentle teachings of mentors and tutors.