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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Missing

In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” Hans Nouwens

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (Christ to His disciples)
Tangible: “perceptible by touch” New Oxford American Dictionary
In the tumultuous world we live in right now, children of military members are finding themselves without a parent for extended periods of time. I remember as a kid hating that my dad even had to go to work, asking my mom all day, “whens dad gonna get home?” So I can't imagine what it must be like for families to be separated for such long periods of time, especially when it's hard for a child to understand the reason for their separation. Elaine Dumlar has taken on the challenge of helping separated military families. She's written best selling books and created the “Flat Daddy” and “Flat Mommy” programs. A flat daddy or mommy is simply a life size cardboard cutout of a child's separated parent. The image provides a tangible object that helps a child keep their parent close in their heart if they cannot be physically close. You may not be affected by separation from a close family member, but in the end, aren't we all members of a separated family? God is not physically with us, but He's left us His word in the Bible and promised to provide us with the Holy Spirit to be His influence in our lives. It's our job to make sure our hearts are open to His communications so that we can always feel close to Him throughout our separation. I can't explain it, but faith in Him and His love for us provides something that is not necessarily tangible, but is definitely perceptible.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Acting with a Sense of Urgency

Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” Jim Rohn

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8

Exigent: “pressing; demanding” New Oxford American Dictionary

I just watched an NBA basketball team lose a playoff game and series because they could not enact a sense of urgency consistently. There's no doubt in my mind the players wanted to win, but they didn't make the full effort required to win. Like in a basketball game, we all come across exigent times and at those moments our ability to meet the demands required of us make a difference for our future and quite possibly the future of others as well. No matter how much we want something, we won't get it unless we make an effort for it. You might have noticed, most people who have more than us have also spent more time trying to get what they have. They may not be justified in their desires and actions, but their efforts made a difference. Don't get me wrong, pushing people out of our way to gain an advantage towards our desires is wrong and the Bible speaks out against selfishness and covetousness over and over. But there are things that need to be worked for, such as sustenance for our families, protection for those who cannot protect themselves, knowledge, and wisdom. We should all strive to build a foundation of knowledge and wisdom that is based on the precepts laid out by God in the Bible. Then we will have a better understanding of what our role in the world should be and what we should try to gain or accomplish. As Christians, don't you think we could accomplish so much more if we tried as hard accomplishing tasks for God as some do trying to become accomplished? Let's make a commitment to act with a sense of urgency for what we know is right instead of just acting with a sense of urgency in our own right. That way so much more of what we accomplish will be for the good of all, not just ourselves.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where's the Wisdom?

The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.Solomon Ibn Gabriol

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

Pukka: “genuine, authentic; first class” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I don't consider myself to be a very wise person. Writing for the Daily Self Growth Journal proves that to me every day. So what gives me the audacity to write something that's meant to help people improve their lives? I struggle all the time trying to remain positive and have a good attitude and a lot of the time I fail. But I keep trying and keep believing that I can improve my life. But like everyone else, I need help, I can't do it by myself. I started the Daily Self Growth Journal experiment because it is something I want and need, not because I believe I have a wealth of wisdom to impart. In fact when I try to impart my own wisdom in what I write I give up very quickly because it becomes readily apparent I'm lacking. So I try to search for wisdom, knowledge, and encouragement almost continually; and what I find I try to impart here. So what in the world is my point in all this rambling? If we're looking for wisdom within ourselves I don't think we'll ever find it. Wisdom has a funny way of imparting itself, almost free from the influence of the issuer. At times it becomes readily apparent and announces itself and a lot of the time it's learned through failure. That's why it's our job to find wisdom from history, from others, and most importantly from God. The Bible is full of wisdom for any hardship or trial any of us could ever go through. But despite of all the available wisdom there is to find, many people choose not to look. Instead we become self absorbed in our own knowledge and our pride convinces us we can find knowledge from within without ever looking outwardly. That almost always fails. There are centuries of wisdom we can glean to find true pukka wisdom. Let's not ignore it, let's embrace it and enjoy the peace that can come from intrusting the originator of wisdom, God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Redemption is Awesome!

“If you can open your heart to somebody, look at what great things can happen.” Shobi Dahl

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

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

At a young age Dave rejected his fathers business and his principles. He spent years in and out of jail and prison, usually for drug abuse and the crimes that came with it. Then in 1996 Dave decided he was gonna take his life of crime a step farther, he says he began selling large amounts of hard drugs. But his life of crime effectively ended in 97 after he was arrested five times and went to prison for what was going to be the last time. Dave says he “really thought [his] life was over.” But as it turns out, it wasn't. During his last stint behind bars something about Dave changed, he started to take responsibility for what he had done and tried to improve himself as a person. If I had to guess, it was then I think that he decided what he could be, and it was more than what he had been. While still in prison he called his brother Glenn and hinted that he wanted to come back to the family business. Glenn says he loved him and wanted him back and ultimately decided to let him come back to Nature Bake. Glenn took a chance opening his heart up to Dave and it was not a mistake. In 2004 the family company that Dave Dahl had rejected so many years before launched a line of products and a brand that would become more successful than they could imagine. Just a few short years later, Dave's Killer Bread is now being sold all over the western United States and is a favorite for most who have tried it. Along with Nature Bake the family company is now thriving, because Dave at one time rejected it. Now Dave testifies and is himself a testament about how lives can change and what anyone can accomplish. I can't prove it, but I don't think all the good Dave Dahl is doing now could have been accomplished if he had not screwed up his life, been arrested, and gone to prison. We've all screwed up our lives to some extent, instead of letting it negatively affect us, let's take an example from Dave and see what we can accomplish despite our missteps and even misdeeds.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Purpose and Penguins

What are we going to do without animals? If they die, we will all die." Aghelos Kouvaras

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26

Steward: “a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something” New Oxford American Dictionary

Sometimes as adults we can overcomplicate issues so much that the problems get lost amid the arguments. Sometimes it takes the innocence of a child to set a matter straight. The fact is, there are animals on this earth that need our protection. They are gifts from God and He gave us the ability and responsibility to care for them. Aghelos Kouvaras understands that responsibility. After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma sometime in september 2010 he endured six months of chemotherapy treatment. During that time he found a purpose for his life in caring for animals. He wants to help save endangered penguins. And just weeks after ending chemotherapy treatments, Aghelos looks forward to participating in the Wildlife Conservations Society’s third annual Run for the Wild on April 30, a 5k run meant to help endangered penguins. His desire to help wildlife has not only given him something to live for, it has been effective. Thousands of dollars have been raised because of what he stood for while lying in a hospital bed and thousands more are sure to be donated because he has wished for something more than just his life. Aghelos was right, if all the animals died we would be dead as well. Sometimes it takes a child to lead and we should all follow the example of young Aghelos Kouvaras. Did I mention he's six.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Waiting for the Sun

He that can have patience, can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12

Phlegm: “calmness of temperament” New Oxford American Dictionary

I don't get to golf very often and I don't do it very well, but I do enjoy it; and sometimes I'm fortunate enough to find myself on a beautiful golf course getting frustrated trying to hit a small white ball into a small white hole that is always too far away. Today was one of those days; but being spring time in the North West it rains a lot, (much like the rest of the year) but today seemed like a tease. The weather would be decent, then it would start raining like mad for a few minutes, then the sun would come out for a few minutes and the cycle would repeat. Needless to say, it was not perfect golfing weather. When I started my round there were a few other golfers on the course attempting to brave the weather like myself, but by the time I reached the eighth hole most of them must have called it quits, because I never saw another golfer until I finished the eighteenth hole. Part of me feels kinda bad, because after they all left the sky cleared enough to let the sun through and it was absolutely beautiful. I had one of the greatest outdoor experiences anyone could ask for, I had one of Oregon's best golf courses literally all to myself and I didn't have to pay extra or play during odd hours, I just had to stand under a couple trees to avoid getting wet for a few minutes. Our lives can be kinda like my round of golf. There are times when it rains, but if we have patience, the sun is waiting to shine through the clouds and put a whole new perspective on what rain can accomplish.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Fruits

If my life is fruitless, it doesn't matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn't matter who criticizes me.” John Bunyan

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Matthew 7:16-18

Perquisite: (perk) “an advantage or benefit following from a job or situation” New Oxford American Dictionary

Who do you trust? Can people trust in you? I think it's easy for people to get caught up in the everyday living of their lives and forget about what they look like to other people. It's easy to be so engrossed in what we are doing that we don't even recognize that others may see a different image of us than what we believe we're projecting. I'm sure most of us like to think of ourselves as an apple or a peach tree, but in reality we may be more like a locust tree, providing little more than thorns. If you were to go to an orchard you would probably notice the apple trees are planted with other apple trees, the pear trees with other pear tress, and so on. Farmers do it deliberately because they want similar trees pollinating with each other to develop more of a certain fruit. I think we could take a lesson from that. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, “misery loves company,” it's because people have a tendency to associate themselves with others who display similar fruits. If I were angry at my job I would be much more likely to associate with people that were also angry about their job. While they may be comforting, these type of associations tend to foster bad attitudes and bad fruits. Maybe we could take an example from nature and associate ourselves with people who bear good fruits, so that those actions that are good will be more likely to develop and the other negative actions will fall away. How much could we all change our lives if we always tried to bear good fruit?

The Journey!

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ursula K. Leguin

Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. Joshua 24:16-17

Travel: “to be enjoyed or successful away from the place of origin.” New Oxford American Dictionary

I have found that in life people (myself especially) can become fixated on a goal. While goals are important and achievement is accomplished through setting goals, sometimes it is important to stop, realize, and enjoy the moment. Every goal or destination brings with it a journey, and it is in the journey that we all spend our lives. So while we set goals and plot destinations, let's enjoy the process in reaching them, because if we can't do that we won't enjoy life. And don't forget to include God in your journey, he's the best companion you'll ever have.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

He's Holy!

Only me on my knees
Singing holy, holy
And somehow
All that matters now is
You are holy, holy

Nichole Nordeman (from the song “Holy”)

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. 
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1:46-55

Venerate: “regard with great respect; revere” New Oxford American Dictionary

There times when honestly it's tough to think of something uplifting, encouraging, or motivating to write. But the Lord never fails. My words will always fall short at some point and their meaning will always be shallow. Like every other man or woman who has written anything, I'm not perfect. Thank goodness there is a source of everlasting inspiration, a source of immeasurable depths, the Word of God. Everyday we can see His promises fulfilled, realize His power wielded, and feel His love if we choose to let Him into our hearts. To be truthful my heart is not always open the way it should be, probably you feel the same way too. That is the time to ask Him in. I've never been disappointed after asking for His help, no matter what my mood. When it's hardest, that's when we need Him the most. Don't take my word for it. God's Word has been tried and proved throughout the ages, and we should venerate it in our hearts everyday. God is the source of all wisdom and inspiration, let's not forget to go back to it regularly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Use What You Have

“When you die, there's gonna be a tombstone, it's gonna have your name, it's gonna have the year you're born, it's gonna have the day you die, in between there's gonna be a dash, and that dash is gonna represent everything that you did in your life, good and bad, that's how you're remembered. What do you want your dash to represent?” Tim Tebow

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Abaft: “to the rear of; aft of” Dictionary.com

2009 NCAA BCS national football championship; the most popular google search was John 3:16. Why? Because Tim Tebow, the quarterback for the Florida Gators was wearing the verse on his eyeblacks. Over the weekend of april nine and 10, the University of Florida revealed statues of their players who had won the Heisman trophy in their careers. Tim Tebow was one of them. The statue depicts him right down to John 3:16 under his eyes. Some say there never has been and never will be another collegiate football player that eclipses what Tebow was able to do on the field. I say we should all strive to live up to the example he's set for us off the field. Tim Tebow used his fame to spread the word of God. Do we use our abilities to do that? Tim has won two national football championships in college, he now plays in the NFL and has a bright future ahead of him. In a world where common knowledge suggests one has to be slightly shady, dishonest, or even vicious to succeed, it's good to see someone with steadfast values reach heights of accomplishment unknown to most. To think that doctors suggested Tim be aborted during his mothers pregnancy because of a suspected defect makes his accomplishments all the more purposeful. I'm determined that Tim Tebow is God's example of what He can accomplish in a life lived with His purpose. We all should examine our lives and strive to live our lives everyday purposefully for our Maker. With God on our side, I can't imagine abaft of anyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Realizing Value

Just think how happy you would be if you lost everything you have right now, and then got it back again.” Francis Rodman

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

Recoup: “regain (something lost)” New Oxford American Dictionary

Have you ever had a dream you lost something of great value to you? I know I have and I'm sure you have as well. While that kind of dream can be miserable, there is not a much better feeling than waking up after the nightmare of losing something precious to find out it was all a dream. Dreams like that are useful at putting perspective on the value of the things we have. It's easy to fall in the trap of expecting what we have as something we deserve and taking for granted its value. Everything we have is a gift and we are lucky to have it. I'm not saying we should obsess over the things we have, but we should strive to remain grateful for them. What's more, I believe that if we live like we couldn't be happier with what we have, we will be rewarded with more things to be grateful for. What boss would want to promote an employee who constantly complained about their job as if they weren't happy to have it? Even if that employee was good and affective at their work, their attitude would probably prevent them from excelling. Likewise, what uncle would want to buy their nephew a Swiss Army Knife if they knew their nephew didn't appreciate the toys they already had? I think it's clear, gratefulness breeds good will towards us and opens the doors for more blessings and gifts. Let's try to be happy with what we have and realize the value of our blessings, so that we won't have to be reminded while trying to recoup them after their loss.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Truths And Their Opinions

Ask, don't tell. The goal is developing an exchange. Force your opinion and you'll end conversations before they begin.” Craig Reiss

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, and they said to Him, "By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?" Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me." And they discussed it with one another, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'From man'?" they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." Mark 11:27-33

Confabulate: “engage in conversation; talk” New Oxford American Dictionary

How do you convince someone of anything? I'm sure I don't know the answer. If I did, everyone in the world would want to read the “Daily Self Growth Journal.” The truth is everyone has a preconceived notion about most things. We all form opinions on things by what we see from our vantage point of them. Being prideful people, once we build an opinion on believed truths it becomes nearly impossible to change it. My best guess on how to be persuasive is to first shake the foundations of our beliefs. We should ask ourselves: who do we believe (most opinions are based on someones influence), what do we actually believe, when did we begin to form our belief, why do we believe the way you do, and how were we convinced of what we believe. If we practiced basic journaling technics on ourselves we will either polish the core of our beliefs or solidify their foundation so that we will be all the more confident in them. Jesus rarely taught anything that was substantially progressive. He taught basic truths most of the time. When He was confronted with doubters and people who wanted to trap Him in an unanswerable predicament, He did not rely just on stating who He was and what the truth was. Instead, He quoted scripture (known truths) back to them and used their own beliefs to escape entrapment. Of all the people who ever walked the earth, Jesus knew the truth. Yet we don't read of Him getting into unending philosophical debates, instead He simply stated the truth (which was usually already known) and stood by it. In the end, I cannot advise on how to convince someone of the “the truth,” but I know one thing, none of us know all of it. So let's try our best to become experts in truth based on evidence, not opinion, then always strive to tell the truth. If we do a good enough job at building a reputation of truthfulness and contemplation, I believe we will be more often asked about our beliefs of what the truth is, instead of challenged on our opinions of it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crossroads

When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters; one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Crossroads: “a point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences” Hew Oxford American Dictionary

Ok, so we all know what the word “crossroads” refers to. But the reason I decided to put it in today’s message is because it happens to be a synonym of crisis. We all have times when we go through particular crisis’, and in most cases we can’t change that. What we can do is change the way we react to crisis’. The best way to do that I think is to change the way we define crisis, from a definition that is completely negative to a definition that is as much positive as negative. Yes, every crisis comes with its challenges, but also with opportunity. Let’s try to view crisis as a crossroads in life where we can choose to make the best of the opportunities it affords instead of succumbing to its challenges

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vision's Experiences

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18

Vision: “a mental image of what the future will or could be like” New Oxford American Dictionary

“A morning without coffee is like sleep," unknown author. Coffee has become much more than a drink in recent years. People have loved coffee for many generations but it's taken on a whole new identity in the last couple decades in the United States. Coffee is an experience. It can't be described much better than that. People are possessive of their coffee, it's often called “my coffee,” people go to Starbucks and order venti non-fat caramel machiatos with two pumps of caramel and three shakes of cinnamon. People love good coffee and are proud of their personal abilities to concoct a good cup. Here in the North West United States coffee has become an art form for many people. Roasting coffee is no longer just a factory job, artisan roasters put their hearts, souls, and pride into creating the best blend and roast of coffee beans possible. You may be asking why I'm talking about this right now and what it has to do with inspiration or motivation. I'm talking about it right now because much of the attitude towards coffee is the result of one persons vision; you may have even seen him around the media lately, his name is Howard Shultz, he's the owner and CEO of Starbucks and his vision of coffee has made him a billionaire. I've traveled halfway around the world, have been on both coasts of the United States, Europe and the Middle East and have hardly ever been more than a short drive away from getting a cup of Starbucks coffee. In the United States Howard Shultz has changed coffee from a mere necessity to some to a desired experience for many. Before Starbucks became what it is now, Shultz had the vision of creating a “coffee experience” in the United States, now millions of people understand his idea without ever hearing of him or his vision. What vision do you have that could change your community, country, or world? Maybe it's a small thing like a commitment to smile at everyone you see, or wave to everyone you pass in the car (if you're a Jeep owner you know the power of a wave, “it's a Jeep thing”). I think we all have an idea or vision that could change at least one person; and if one life is changed because of a vision you have wouldn't that make it worth it. I have a vision to empower people to impart their visions, I hope you see it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Real Family

Family is who you make it.” Khloe Kardashian

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:48-52

Kindred: “Similar in kind; related” New Oxford American Dictionary

What family does an adopted child belong too more? Of course the answer is that they belong to the family who chooses to make the sacrifices, accept the rewards, and take the time to raise them, love them, and support them as family members. As humans, we share blood relations with specific people, but that is not necessarily who we share our kindred relations with. While having a father in heaven, Jesus was raised by adopted parents. Jesus knew His true relations, but He also valued and respected His chosen family. DNA is far less important in a family than love. A genetic family without love is no more a family than a room full of strangers. It doesn't share commonality, it fosters strife, and it is unproductive, even destructive to the plight of humankind. A family unit with love is far more likely to produce citizens that are productive to their cultures and communities. A family unit with love is far more united in values and interests. And a family unit with love is a family, whether or not its members share blood relations or not. If you don't have a family, it might do you well to seek one. If you know someone who doesn't have a family, it might do you well to accept them as a brother or sister. And for everyone who can't find a family, take comfort in the family of our Creator. I'm reminded of the Crystal Lewis song that states, “People get ready, Jesus is coming, soon we'll be going home.” Like Christ, we all have a family waiting for us that supersedes any earthly family we are born into. What a blessing we have.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Need Home

It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong

Randy Newman (From the song “Feels Like Home”)

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. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:4-5

Asylum: “shelter or protection from danger” New Oxford American Dictionary

Real quick I want to speak from the heart. My wife is a photographer and she has a blog she uses to showcase some of her work. Lately she's had this song “Feels Like Home” playing in the background on it; and it always sticks in my head, it's comforting and beautiful, especially in conjunction with the portraits that emanate love and a rich feeling of home. There is so much love in the world and when we notice it, it is overpowering; unfortunately there is also hate. My heart breaks for anyone who feels homeless, whether it's the man or woman on the street with no shelter, or the tycoon who feels worthless and alone while being surrounded with wealth. We all need a home, a place we know we're loved and cared for. We all need the warm feeling of companionship and empathy. While there are many in the world who don't have the great luxury of a physical home, we are all blessed with a spiritual home. A place we can dream of and look forward to at any moment. A place we are promised will be greater than anything our vivid imaginations could conjure. A place where we are loved beyond compare. We all have a home with our heavenly Father who waits for the perfect time to provide us with the perfect asylum. I don't know about you, but the thought of that puts a smile on my face.

If your interested in seeing the beautiful portraits I talk about in this story feel free to visit www.whitneysummers.com. Please forgive me for the shameless plug but I'm so proud of her. : )

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Self Employment

“The reality is, you work for yourself regardless of who signs your check.” Zig Ziglar

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

Indenture: “A formal legal agreement, contract, or document, in particular an agreement binding an apprentice to a master” New Oxford American Dictionary

I think most people spend a lot of time looking for, dreaming about, or trying to retain a steady, dependable job. While it's comforting to have security in employment and income, the most important thing when it comes to job security is a strong work ethic, not necessarily a dependable job. We should concentrate on becoming invaluable employees at whatever we do. Every day scientists and engineers lose their jobs from projects in organizations like NASA or Boeing, but do you think they spend a lot of time out of work? Probably not, they proved themselves at top levels of their field and their accomplishments ensure people will want to hire them. Let's try to ensure that we are the best employees at whatever we do, whether we're actually working for somebody else or working for ourselves. We will never escape the indenture we have to ourselves, so we should be the best possible apprentice to whatever we undertake. If we're determined and driven to become accomplished, we will be accommodated.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Defend Your Troops

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” Harold S. Geneen

I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remember the words of the Lord Jesus Himself said: “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:33-35

Placate: “Make (someone) less angry or hostile” New Oxford American Dictionary

If you work in an organization and have aspirations to advance in your career as a leader, you probably find yourself balancing the needs of your peers with the needs, wants and requirements of your management. There is the viewpoint that helping those above you will lead to your own success because of theirs and there is the idea that leaders should always work for those they have charge over. Both concepts have their merits, but how you act is decided by what you want. Do you want to be a leader, or do you want rank and status. You can have all the rank in the world and not be a leader. You could even say it's easier to follow your way to the top than to lead. Leadership can begin at whatever position you're in right now, it's even possible for you to lead someone that far outranks you. Leadership is best earned by the way you treat others and conduct yourself. You cannot be granted leadership by people with power, it can only be granted to you by those who wish to follow you. With leadership comes responsibility, even if it's not formal. When someone deems you worthy of leadership, their actions become your responsibility because of the influence you can wield. As the saying goes, “the buck stops with you.” You cannot blame their shortcomings on anyone but yourself and you cannot let them become lone targets of punitive action for their mistakes. A leader must stand with their peers and followers when the heat is on. As soon as you forget about the well-being of others your leadership will be stripped from you and you will be at best a boss. A boss has the power to discipline, correct, and drive; but they have very limited power to lead. As a boss, you are still responsible for the actions of your organization, but you will have very little influence over it. As a boss of a failing organization, you will have no support under you. Like a house with a crumbling foundation, you will fall. Let's try to be leaders. It requires no position of power and can be practiced at any time. If all you've got is a dog, lead it! Even a dog will reject poor or phony leadership. We may not get credit for our affective leadership at first, but it will always be recognized by someone and will most certainly be rewarded eventually.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Decisions and Mistakes

“In every race, you're making split second decisions; in every race, you make a hundred mistakes, sometimes those are the days you end up in victory lane.” Jeff Gordon

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Proverbs 24:16

Cataclysm: “A large-scale and violent event in the natural world” New Oxford American Dictionary

Life is full of decisions with unknown outcomes. Every time we get in our car to drive to work in the morning we have no certainty we will make it back home. But we make the decision to set out because it is what we must do to support ourselves and our family. We don't think of driving to work as being a mistake unless we were to get into an accident, even then we probably wouldn't blame ourselves for being foolish. While this is a silly example I know, every decision in life is just like it. We know what needs to be done and we attempt it, no matter what the possible outcome, because we know the probable outcome. What if we considered great feats with the same sort of analysis? What if we thought of reaching our dreams as a probability instead of a possibility? Would that give us the courage to set lofty goals? When a race car driver straps into their seat they are strapping in with the probability they are not going to win, but it's the possibility of winning, the belief that they can win, and the joy of the experience that drives them. What if we were to strap on our dreams and take them for a ride to see where they could take us? Even if we don't ride them all the way to ultimate success, couldn't we still enjoy the ride? Being correct can't always be the driving motivation behind our decision making process. Sometimes being wrong is what makes life worth living. If we didn't make mistakes what would we learn from?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Giving and Living

“We get to make a living; we give to make a life” Winston Churchill

There will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and the poor, in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

Altruism: “the belief or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others” New Oxford American Dictionary

Brandon Johnson was 13 years old and laying in a hospital bed at Texas Children's Hospital with a malignant brain tumor. It was august 31st and he had hoped to go to a baseball game between the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals. Because of his sickness, however, he couldn't make it. So baseball came to him. After the game, Brandon was visited by a tall Dominican-American man who presented him with an autographed bat. The man was Albert Pujols, and it was no ordinary everyday bat, he had used that bat to hit his 400th career home run in major league baseball a few days earlier. We could all learn from Albert Pujols. No matter who you are, or what you've accomplished, you are never above giving back. If anything, blessings from God give us a greater responsibility to care for others. Giving a bat to a sick child in the hospital is one of many examples of what Mr. Pujols has done for others. His charitable actions go on and on. The banner for the Pujols family foundation is emblazoned with the words, “Faith. Family. Others.” I'm so glad there are people like Albert Pujols to look up to, people that are accomplished and have everything they'll ever need and still take time to make a difference in their communities and throughout the world. I hope you take the time to visit www.pujolsfamilyfoundation.org and join me in trying to emulate not just a baseball hero but more importantly a giving hero.

We All Have Somewhere to Turn

This is for yours truly
Just a little verse to remind me
We all got somewhere to turn
And I may not know what its like
To send my only Son to save the world and watch Him die
And I may not know how it feels
To hang there on the cross to prove that love is real
But I got friends that do
Yeah I got friends that do
Yeah I got friends that do
You know we all got friends that do

From the song “I've Got Friends That Do” by Tim McGraw

Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

Credence: “belief in or acceptance of something as true” New Oxford American Dictionary

There is no better news than the fact that we all have somewhere to turn. No matter what happens in this world, even if no one loves us or cares about us, we have a God that loves us perfectly and more than we could ever imagine. Not only that, but He is there to bear the burden of our hardships if we should only ask. He can help us through trials in life when we don't believe help can be had. And as the Psalmist pleads in Psalms 51:10, He can create a pure heart and steadfast spirit in us. It's easy for many of us to believe in God, but at the same time I think it's difficult for most of us to place meaningful credence in what He promises to do for us. One of my favorite statements about the Bible and it's promises is stated by Joel Osteen before his sermons. Talking about the Bible he states, “I am who it says I am, I have what it says I have, and I can do what it says I can do.” How much can true belief in that change our lives?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do It!

See it. Say it. Do it.” Dr. Lynn Hellerstein

For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:23-25

Acquit: “conduct oneself or perform in a specified way” New Oxford American Dictionary

Being in the military I hear from general officers every once in a while. Like anyone in leadership positions they have a lot to say about things. So they try to communicate their ideas with others in their chain of command. Like most bloviations, the majority of what they say is disregarded within a short period of time. But there is one thing I heard that has stuck with me. I can't remember who said it exactly but I will always remember it. “Never pass a mistake,” it's a simple phrase and you can take it for what it's worth, but I try my best to hold true to the spirit of its meaning. What if we all tried to pay attention to our surroundings a little bit more than we do? What if when we saw garbage on the sidewalk we took the time to pick it up, or when we saw a person we could help we offered assistance? What if when we saw opportunities for significance we chose to act on them, what if we forged ahead with goals no matter the risks? You might be saying to yourself, “I have a good job, why would I risk my livelihood chasing a dream?” And you might be right, it may be unwise for you to drop everything you've built to follow an unproven idea. But I bet there are things you could do to increase your success. And I'm sure if you're in the situation where you don't want to sacrifice what you have, you've already done what I'm talking about. My point is, let's not be stagnant, let's be explorers and pioneers in whatever we do. And whatever trail we blaze, let's leave a wake of significance that people will see, appreciate, and maybe even emulate. What if, when people studied our lives they could say that we “saw it, said it, and did it?”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beauty Unnoticed

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Confucius

He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Descry: “catch sight of” New Oxford American Dictionary

Two white sea gulls hovered in the wind above the bridge I was sitting in traffic on. One seemed to be chasing the other but looked content to lag slightly behind. They dove and climbed and banked and looked like they were perfectly happy in the moment. They were beautiful. If you live anywhere near water I'm sure you're familiar with sea gulls, they are common and often disregarded. Sometimes they're even considered a nuisance; and like anything, they can be. But like everything God has made they are beautiful. Perfectly graceful in the air, they stay aloft without hardly beating a wing. Content to glide and use and compromise with the wind to determine their course they exemplify the design God created them with. So much in life is like a gull, unnoticed and beautiful. Everyday we take for granted the beauty we live with. There is hardly and ugly tree, but we pass by them everyday without ever noticing one. I can't think of a single homely mountain, but how often do we really stop to appreciate them? Let's try to appreciate the beauty around us. If we lift our eyes with the purpose to see it we will find it everywhere. God has blanketed us with His everlasting love and it's interwoven with the beautiful things He's made for us. Let's descry and enjoy it.

The Road to Happiness

“The difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.” Unknown

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

Acrimonious: “(typically of speech or a debate) angry and bitter” New Oxford American Dictionary

April seven is my wife's birthday, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But the road to her has not been paved with, well you know the cliché. Come to think of it it wasn't really paved at all. The way was bumpy and hard. But she is so great I would be happy to go through it all again to have her. So on her birthday, she's not only celebrating the life she's been blessed with, I'm celebrating the life she blessed me with. What's in your life that you care about; and what happened to you in the past that lead to you having it? I'd be willing to bet, everything you love came as a result of bad things happening to you in the past. I know everything great that I have now came from not so great things. If I think of anything that is valuable to me and trace back the events that led to it, there is always something I didn't enjoy in the mix and I can't be sure I would have that thing of value if it weren't for it. Let's try to remember that providence isn't just a result of good happenings, but of bad ones too. It helps when things aren't going so well to realize that the future holds amazing things for us because of it. We could avoid so much acrimony and heartache I think, if we considered the results of bad things.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talent and Skill

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” Larry Bird

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Dexterity: “skill at performing tasks, especially with the hands” New Oxford American Dictionary

I was watching a basketball game and the first thing that came to my mind was the word “skill.” Skill is fundamental to success in life. But it's one thing that is entirely our responsibility to attain. You've heard the saying I'm sure, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.” Well skill development is kinda like that. Our parents can encourage and even mandate skill building exercises, but they can't force skill on their children. Businesses develop training programs to enhance the skills of their workers, but employees must accept the training and take it seriously for it to be affective. No matter what the training, none of us will ever be skilled at all the things we would like to be skilled at, but we all are blessed with talents from God. Talents are the canvas on which skills come to fruition. It is our responsibility to turn our blank canvases into works of art, to develop our talents into skills that can be used to make the world a better place. Let's try to identify the areas of potential we have and develop dexterity in those fields. If we base our skills on the God-given talents we poses and work hard at honing those skills and using them for the betterment of others, there is no doubt in my mind we will find, not only success, but something much more important. As Zig Ziglar puts it, we will find “significance.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm No Better

“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” Charles de Montesquieu

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Servile: “having or showing an excessive willingness to serve or please others” New Oxford American Dictionary

I will make today's message short, mostly because I don't know how to expound on it any more than this. Never ever, ever, ever, believe you're better than somebody else.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kairos Moments

“If you don't value your time, nobody else will.” Unknown Author

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the LORD a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8

Kairos: “a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune or decisive moment” Allwords.com

As humans we have a finite amount of time in this world, and a purposeful life requires time. It's important that we value the time we have to accomplish whatever it is that fulfills our lives. If you're a carpenter, the time you take to build a house is valuable and deserves compensation. If you're a doctor you've taken time from your life to learn a valuable and difficult skill and that deserves reimbursement. If you're a stay at home mom, you will never be compensated with money, but you deserve payment non the less; the satisfaction of raising productive children cannot be valued. The point is, your productive activities deserve compensation whether it be monetary or other. We should value our time so that it is not wasted on meaningless activities that don't provide value to our lives and so that we don't let others waste our time for us. Every moment we have is a kairos moment, what opportunity does this moment hold for you?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Effort's Mistakes

You're not gonna play perfect.” Brad Stevens (University of Butler mens head basketball coach)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

Quintessential: “representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class” New Oxford American Dictionary

Zig Ziglar say's he has a friend who tells him “you can't climb a smooth mountain.” It's true, without footholds we have no grip to climb. The obstacles we face in life can become footholds for progress if we choose to see them that way. Life is not perfect, and we aren't perfect either. We'll trip up and make mistakes, we'll stumble and fail, and we'll go through times where it seems we'll never succeed at anything. But all those stumbling blocks we experience in life can be turned to building blocks with the proper attitude. Brad Stevens, the head coach for the Butler University mens basketball team posts in the locker room today's quote because he want's his players to understand that perfection is not expected of them, he expects them to make mistakes because mistakes are a result of effort. There is no such thing as a quintessential basketball player. Michael Jordan missed more shots than he made. I can't tell you if the spirit of today's quote makes a huge difference for the Butler basketball team, but over his first three seasons as a NCAA head basketball coach Brad Stevens has set the NCAA record for the most wins in their first three seasons, became the second youngest coach to ever take a team to an NCAA championship game, became the youngest coach to ever take their team to the final four two years in a row, and didn't stop there, he took his Butler team to the NCAA championship game two years in a row. Commentators have taken note that his team seams to be able to play more effectively than most others while not playing well. University of Purdue coach Piggy Lambert said, “The team that makes the most mistakes will probably win.” For imperfect people like ourselves, mistakes are a result of effort. What if we lived like that, like the person who makes the most mistakes will probably find the most success? It's not that mistakes a good thing, but they show that we are willing to try, willing to make an effort. We could lay in bed all day and not screw up a thing, but that would never lead to a fulfilled life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't Tread on Me

Don't tread on me.” Christopher Gladsden 


The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:20

Recalcitrant: “having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline” New Oxford American Dictionary

As Christians it can become easy to victimize ourselves. After all the sermon on the mount blesses the meek and poor, it instructs us to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. But I don't think Jesus wishes us to be victims of anyone. Rather He wants us to be empowered through Him and He doesn't condone us treading on anybody. There is a balance to everything, throughout the Bible you can read texts about moderation. And so it is with strength. We are not called to be recalcitrant, Jesus says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,” but we are not to be cowards either. Remember Jesus defended the Temple from the money changers and He is continuously rebuking the devil. As Christians it is our responsibility not only to turn the other cheek to avoid unnecessary conflicts but also to defend what is right, sacrifice our welfare to protect our neighbors, and with the help of our Maker crush the devil.