The Intent of This Blog

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

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Be A Valentine!


"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, and 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 may not be Valentines day. It may not be the day we officially celebrate love for one another. But isn't every day a good day to live with and for love. Today is a great day to start.

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ability and Purpose


“For me, ultra running is 90 percent mental, and the other 10 percent is mental.”  Ray Zahab

The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.  He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure in the heights.  He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  Psalm 18:32-34

Fortitude:  “courage in pain or adversity”  New Oxford American Dictionary

“I have no clue how I do it, I’m not a great athlete, I was a smoker and a drinker.”  But guess what?  That doesn’t matter to Ray, he does it anyway.  So on the first of november 2006, along with Charlie and Kevin, he set out to run across the Sahara desert.  They began in St. Louis, Senegal with their feet in the Atlantic Ocean and finished in Egypt with their hands in the Red Sea.  It took 111 consecutive days of running to span the distance of the Sahara.  They ran for over 4300 miles, the equivalent of 170 marathons without ever taking a day off.  That’s what they did with their bodies and with their minds.  With their inspiration they were on a quest to do something much more difficult.  They were on a quest to change the world.  By running across the Sahara, Ray, Charlie, and Kevin inspired many to do something more than live their own life,  they have inspired many to make the lives of others better.  God has blessed us with abilities most of us leave untapped.  Those abilities, when coupled with His purpose can conquer the world.  Countless Africans have access to clean water today, not because Ray Zahab decided to donate a few dollars to a charitable organization, not because Charlie Engle decided to investigate the problems of the African continent, not because Kevin Lin wanted to help the worlds poor.  No, countless Africans have clean water today because these three men decided to run.  What ability do you and I have to make a difference?

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What About Worry?


"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength."  Corrie Ten Boom

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  Proverbs 12:25

Consternation:  “feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected”  New Oxford American Dictionary

The Lord will provide.  As I was thinking about what to write in today’s message about worry, I realized I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to write sufficiently about the topic.  But as I sat trying to think about what to say, the words, “The Lord will provide” popped into my head.  I’ve literally written hundreds of these messages and hundreds have started out this way.  When there’s nothing I can say, I begin to write.  And it seems the Lord has always provided something.  I’ll admit it, I’m not qualified to write about inspiration, or wisdom, or knowledge, or anything of the sort.  But there’s a goal behind The Daily Self Growth Journal, so I can’t let my worries get in the way of progress.  At some point, whether I have something to say or not, I have to write.  Every day, worry prevents a breakthrough somewhere in the world.  Every day, somebody lets worry stand in the way of their dreams.  The problem is, it has become acceptable for people to allow problems to become unsolvable because of consternation.  But when a problem is big enough, we all know there’s no time to worry.  Remember the crew of Apollo 13?  They were on the other side of the moon without enough oxygen to return home.  They were going to die in space unless they solved their problem.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know that every second counted.  There was no time to worry because reality dictated their schedule.  In the end, the crew solved their problem and returned home safely because they approached their situation through the realization of reality, instead of the anxiety of imaginary events created by worry.  That’s not to say there wasn’t stress, there was plenty of that, but they didn’t let it affect what they had to do.  How much better off would we be if we approached problems without worry?  If we saw challenges as problems to be solved, instead of mysteries to be worried about?  How much better off would we be if we all realized we have a loving God that who will provide?  With heaven in store, is there really that much to worry about after all?

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thank you so much for reading, it means a ton to me.
Jake

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Latent Power


I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Abraham Lincoln

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

Latent: “(of a quality or state) existing but not yet developed or manifest; hidden; concealed” New Oxford American Dictionary

Don't think for once God doesn't want you to be powerful... Having said that, I grew up struggling with the beatitudes given by Christ in the sermon on the mount. If you're poor, meek, or sad, His blessings come as needed support and encouragement, and that's good. But if you have dreams of success and significance, it can sound discouraging and instill guilt. But the Bible says that “Love conquers all,” 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn't say love always loses but is the most honorable. It says “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength and mount up on wings as eagles,” Isaiah 40:31. It doesn't say believing in God will lead to sorrow and weakness but is admirable. So what was Christ really saying? Was He actually giving instructions on how to be significant in life? When Jesus instructs us to turn the other cheek or go the extra mile is He really telling us how to wield strength in a powerless situation? Think of it this way. If we're forced to carry a soldiers gear for a mile, there is obviously nothing we can do about it, right? But if we volunteer to carry it another mile, morally, that soldier becomes indebted to us, does he not? Turning the other cheek, or going the extra mile, may not make a difference physically or lawfully, but it makes a difference in thought and in heart. Not only does it change people's attitude towards us, it solidifies and publicizes righteousness in the situation. Possibly, even winning support from others. Take Jesus as an example. Even if we discount His deity, through His follower-ship, Christ, through humility became the most powerful person in the history of the world. However, many of us still doubt that His methods and His instruction could work in our lives. But they can, and they will, if we're humble enough to try them. Next time we're faced with a humbling situation, let's try our best to humble ourselves, let Christ's character shine through our actions and let the power of God do our battling. It may be latent now, but in this life or the next we are sure to earn victory and power beyond explanation.

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Joy of Christmas


“Why should we not recognize this miracle of love, the eternal Word which created the world?  The other founders of religions had not the least conception of this mystic love which forms the essence of Christianity.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

For God sent not His son into this world to condemn this world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  John 3:17

Salvation:  “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption” Dictionary.com

Quick, think of a symbol of Christmas.  If you’re like me, a Christmas tree with some presents popped into your head.  Maybe even Santa on his sleigh.  Or Rudolph flying past a wintery snowscape.  The funny thing is, nobody knows for sure where we came up with these prominent symbols of Christmas.  No one knows how we came up with a Christmas tree for sure.  Or a wreath, or Santa for that matter.  There is conjecture and ideas of where they came from and their roots in our culture, but there is concrete truth in them.  What we absolutely know about Christmas, is this.  We know that it’s a celebration of Christ coming to this world to save us from our sins.  No, December 25th is not Jesus’ birthday.  But it’s the day we celebrate His incarnation into this world of sin and suffering.  It’s the day we should remember to be thankful for the salvation He brought with Him.  That’s the real gift of Christmas.  That’s why we bring gifts and blessings to our loved ones on this day.  Wise men greeted Jesus with their grifts when He was born, now we greet each other with gifts in commemoration.  But our gifts will always pale in comparison to His.  We bring toys, tools, and new cloths.  He came bearing salvation, redemption, and the promise of JOY.  (Something my pastor, Bill Ritchie refers to as an “inside smile.” ) Our presents bring happiness, His brings continued joy.  Let’s be thankful on this day for the gift from our creator.  The ultimate gift.  The gift that brings us to the cross.

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

Thanks for reading.
Jake

Monday, December 24, 2012

Remember the Foxholes


"Prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven, but getting God's will done on earth. It is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of God's willingness."
Richard C. Trench

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Entreaty: “an earnest or humble request” New Oxford American Dictionary

There are times in life where calamity seems to be lying in wait around every corner. Every time we turn on the news we're amazed at a new disaster or crime. It seems sometimes that every day brings with it a new hardship for someone. Even though we may be doing well personally, it's hard to hear about all the sadness and struggles that happen around the world moment by moment. What's more, we are helpless to stop it all. As humans, we can do good around the world, and it is noble to make an effort at assisting those in need. But sometimes it seems there is nothing we can do. However, the power of prayer is more effective than we know. When all of life seems to be crashing down, there is still something we can do; pray. I'm sure you've heard the old adage, “There's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.” Well, we're all in a foxhole from time to time and there's no shame in asking for help, sometimes it's the only thing we can do. But let's remember the foxhole when times are good. Let's remember the foxhole when it doesn't seem like we're in need of help. And let's remember the foxhole when it feels like we're in control of our destiny. The truth is. We're always in need of help. We're not the ones controlling our destiny. And good times won't be here to stay until Jesus takes us to the place He has prepared for us. Until that time. Let's pray. Let's take advantage of the joy God can give us in times of trial. And let's seek to know the truth about our situation. No, we may not feel like we're in the foxhole right now, but let's not let ourselves be fooled away from the permanent joy of God by the temporary happiness this world provides. Whether we know it or not. We're all in a foxhole at this very moment, and we need God's protection now as much as ever. So let's pray.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Old Glory


O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Francis Scott Key (from the “Star Spangled Banner”)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep  your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (King James Version)

Subsist:  “maintain or support oneself, esp. at a minimal level”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Captive aboard the British ships HMS Surprise and HMS Minden, Francis Scott Key watched helplessly while those very ships bombarded Fort McHenry.  He could see from the lights of the bombardment that the forts smaller storm flag kept flying.  However, when the attack ended and the skies went dark he could no longer see the flag.  He was left in darkness and uncertainty until the light of a new day could reveal whether the fort still stood.  When morning broke he recognized that indeed the storm flag had come down, but it had not come down in defeat, it had been replaced with the forts larger flag, the now famous “Star Spangled Banner.”  As humans we are daily bombarded by hardships and temptations.  And sometimes it can be hard to know whether our Savior is even still there, whether He was ever there.  But one look at God’s creation reveals His presence.  It may be tattered in places by the effects of sin, but His majesty still shines through.  The parallels between solar systems and atomic structures show the genius in the building blocks of His design, and the synergy of creation tells of His presence and the victory that’s already been won on our behalf.  As a fledgling country, one our first acts was to commission a flag as a symbol of our existence and sovereignty.  Francis Scott Key referred to it as “The Star Spangled Banner,” others know it as “Old Glory.”  Whatever its name, it tells the story of America and our trust in God.  God in His majesty has left us with His creation as a banner of His presence.  And it does not simply subsist, its beauty is unmatched by our endeavors, its existence unswayed by our pollution, and its secrets unknown to our sciences.  It is the first, the true, “Old Glory.”  

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Taking Sides


Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right” Abraham Lincoln

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20: 7-8


Ensconce: “establish or settle (someone) in a comfortable, safe, or secret place” New Oxford American Dictionary

I remember listening to a story by a british man, about a tank battle in WWII he had fought in. As he was describing the position of the Germans he said something like "a well ensconced adversary can do considerable damage." I started thinking to myself on how that can relate to our lives. Obviously in a military battle it helps to have a fortified position, but how can we fortify our everyday lives? Many of us live in a world with many pitfalls and adversaries, and when under attack, it helps to be able to dig in for protection. But digging in doesn't always lend itself to successful living. As productive humans, we are forced into society, and must face the challenges it presents. Nonetheless, there is one way I know to remain ensconced and safe even while we live within this world. That is with the help of the Lord our Savior. He has our front, our back, and our flanks. If we're determined to be on His side the adversaries presented by life can be of no challenge to us.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Light Up


“Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you, dear”
Gary Lightbody, Jonathan Quinn, Mark McClelland, Nathan Connolly, and Ethan Archer (from the song Run by Snow Patrol)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The Apostle Paul, Romans 8:38-38 (New International Version)

Fissure:  “a long, narrow opening or line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, esp. in rock or earth”  New Oxford American Dictionary

One evening as I was falling asleep in front of the TV, I happened to hear the song Run, by Snow Patrol.  Immediately I knew it was saying something more to me than what the writers intended.  It’s a song between two loves, and if you’ve ever been away from someone you love for long enough, you know exactly how it feels to want to tell them that you love them when there is no way to communicate.  So you say it out loud, “I love you.”  You say it in your head, “I love you.”  You say it earnestly, “I love you.”  Hoping they will somehow feel the love you have for them and know what you’re trying to communicate.  That you’re “right beside them.”  And often those messages are felt.  A little note on lunch napkin, a picture given as a keepsake, a ring on a finger; they all have a way of communicating love when contact is not possible.  In the same way, Christ loves us and is right beside us.  He doesn’t speak to us through His voice, but we can feel it through His Word, we can feel it when we bow down to pray, and we can feel it when we worship with fellow believers.  Like the song says, “Light up, light up, as if you have a choice,” when we feel the love of God there is a power that lights us up.  It may be as if we have a choice, but it isn’t.  Like water breaks apart a rock when frozen in it its fissures, the love of our Savior can crush the hardest of hearts by simply seeping in.  Maybe that is why when Jesus was speaking of Himself as being the stone the builders rejected in Matthew 21:42-44 He said, “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”  No, there is no choice but to light up for the one who said, “Let there be light.” 

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Destination


Even though the journey’s long
An I know the road is hard
Well, the One who’s gone before me
He will help me carry on
And all that I’ve been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God
 Written by:  Mac Power and Brown Bannister (from the song Mountain of God by Third Day)

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

Waypoint:  “a stopping place on a journey”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Advice on life often emphasizes the journey.  I’ve even done it myself.  Emphasized appreciating life for what it is instead of what it could, should, or will be.  And that’s usually sound advice when it comes to our human experience.  Constant longing for the next advance damages our ability to appreciate the moments, and life itself.  However, there are times and tragedies in life that cannot be enjoyed, will not be understood, and must not be dwelt upon.  It’s in those terrible moments of life, that it becomes more clear than ever, that our spiritual journey overlaps, affects, and exists with our earthly goals.  And when it comes to our spiritual journey, the destination must be the focal point.  In our human experience here on earth, our destination, while it may be desired or predicted, is certainly unknown to us.  However, in our spiritual walk with God, our ultimate destination is known.  And knowing a destination changes the way we feel about our journey’s waypoints.  Yes, we should appreciate, learn from, and if possible, enjoy the waypoints of our spiritual journey.  But as in any journey, if they detract from the destination, we risk becoming lost.  As in all journeys, the destination has to be the focal point and the goal.  With a clear goal, hardships are more easily overcome and temptations are more easily avoided.  And when we have a clear goal, we are more likely to do what it takes to reach it.  However, there is no way we can achieve the goal of salvation on our own.  We must have a a guide.  We must have a Savior.  We must have Jesus.  He is the only one who knows the way.  Jesus IS the only way.  He said, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6  Let’s accept that.  Make it, make Him our guide.  If we do, we will find the journey of life becomes more about destination than it ever could without Him.  If we do, we can find comfort in times of trouble and peace in times of turmoil.  It’s all about destination.  Do you know yours?

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

Thank you for reading.  You mean a lot to me.
Jake

Friday, December 14, 2012

DSGJ Supplemental: Love Carried the Day


     For the last few years I’ve dedicated a significant part of my life to inspiring, teaching, and encouraging people.  Today is no different.  But what can a 32 year old man who has never experienced a loss, in terms of death, other than a grandparent, say to a mother who just lost her five year old little girl?..  Nothing.  The truth is, I’m not sure anyone has anything to say.  Humans do not have the ability to heal death or the hurt it inflicts.  People do not have the ability to rectify a grievous situation.
But God does have something to say.  God can heal.  And He has rectified.  It was in a manger some 2012 years ago that Christ came into this world to save us from sin and death.  And it was on the cross that He died a gruesome death so that we may live.  God did not build us to die.  He built us to live forever.  We chose to die when Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit of forbidden tree.  And if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that myth can’t heal a wound.  Think of this.  Jesus is no myth.  His life and death are not doubted.  Either by religious or historical scholars.  He existed and died and was laid in a tomb and disappeared from that tomb when He said He would and nobody who doubts that He rose from the dead has any evidence the says otherwise.  And think of this.  The passion that so many of us know so well.  That is the story of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Is best told in Isaiah 52 and 53.  And Isaiah was written more than 700 years before Christ was born.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 29:11.  But how is that true for those little children?  How is that true for those teachers?  How is that true for all the families who suffered loss today?  It’s only true because God’s plan was for Jesus to die on the cross to save us.  In that way the picture of the cross and the tree of knowledge good and evil come to life.  In that way they become so much more than myth.  In that way, the timbers of the cross were hewn from that forbidden tree.  Yes, God does have something to say.  He says that we are loved.  Loved enough to die for.  He says that those little children have life eternal through His Son.  He says that the Gospel is for you and for me.  It’s for the victim, the wounded, and the dying.
Today we saw victims.  We saw people wounded and dying.  Today we saw God’s loved reflected in so many.  Yes the hate of Satan made its presence known and it took its victims.  But it was trounced by love.  Today teachers put their lives and their bodies on the line for children.  War has come to us throughout history.  It came on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.  It came on September 11, 2001 in New York City.  And today it came to us in a kindergarten classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.  Satan through one man damaged and destroyed many lives.  But there were many who were heroes.  We’re somewhat used to war on the battlefield.  But its entirely different when it’s in the classroom.  Our teachers have no weapons but their love.  They have no shields but their bodies.  And they have no purpose but their students.  Today, a few of them gave the ultimate sacrifice.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friends.” John 15:13  Today that happened.  And today we were reminded that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Ephesians 6:12  And so, in the light of terrible hate and sorrow we can have faith that God is with us.  Loved carried this day.  And it’s love that will carry us into eternity where sin and sorrow can never touch us again.

With Him


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

     The only reason she was in the United States is because she promised her parents she would attend college. Her real life was back home in Uganda with the children of Amazima. It wasn't a plush and comfortable home by materialistic standards. It wasn't even where she was born or even close to it. She was actually from Brentwood, Tennessee, close to where she was going to school. But her heart was in Uganda. And she missed it. She couldn't wait to get back. Why? In her own words, she missed relying on God. With her parents in Brentwood, she had every material thing she ever needed. In Uganda she had nothing without God. In Uganda she had to trust God would show up and provide the next meal and she missed that. By this time she was taking care of several orphaned children in her home and was starting a ministry to bring hope, purpose, and the gospel to the poorest in Uganda. And while it wasn't a very comfortable life by the standards most westerners, it was rewarding, because God was with her. And now, because Katie Davis relied on God for everything, God is providing for many through her and Amazima Ministries.
     Isn't it amazing how God can take things that aren't necessarily good and turn them into something valuable? Thorns on a rose bush are a nuisance to us, but they also preserve the beauty of their flowers by protecting them from animals who would destroy them. Clouds hide the sun and it's vitamin D-giving-rays and their rain can cause mudslides and floods, but without them the flora and fauna that make the world a beautiful place would not exist. Without them he world would be an uninhabitable place. In the same way, hard work can make our muscles sore and stretch our mental capacities, but it provides a satisfaction little else can match. Without it our lives would have very little meaning. Faith and trust 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, trust that He can bless us with more happiness than any of our efforts could ever achieve. Let's trust in Him and see what He will provide. He's already provided the life in us, and that's something no person can give. Let's use it for Him.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Great Instigator

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand
Joel Houston (From the song The Stand)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Genesis 1:1 (King James Version)

Afflatus:  “a divine creative impulse or inspiration”  New Oxford American Dictionary

On my wrist I ware a rubber bracelet with the words, “Jesus says - follow me no matter what,” molded into its band.  I’ve never met the man behind the bracelet; probably never will.  But I know a little bit about his story.  What I know I will tell, forgive me if I make a mistake.  He grew up a Buddhist in a family where much was given to him and much was expected of him and his future.  But he was depressed, wondering what life was all about, wondering if there was any point.  Ready to take his own life one day, someone asked if he wanted to attend a small meeting in the forest and learn about Jesus.  Impulsively, he said yes.  And that’s when God’s eternal plan for him took control of his life.  He became a Christian, and everything changed.  No longer did he suffer the same depression wishing to take his own life.  No longer did he wonder what everything is about.  He knew there was a reason and a point for everything.  He knew the solution to life’s grief and suffering.  That the solution was the Cross.  But that’s just what was happening on the inside.  On the outside, he was beaten and abused for his beliefs.  He was eventually deported from his country to neighboring Batam where he was further beaten for his beliefs.  Eventually he was able to come to the United States where he is free to distribute his bracelets reminding us to follow Jesus.  One of which I wear every day.  I am convinced that no one looking for truth on their own cognizance finds Christianity or God.  They find humanism, they find science, and they find confusion.  Humanity and science are a reality, but in reality they are merely the results of the truth of God.  Without God they don’t make sense, without God they don’t exist.  No, people don’t find God, God found us when He created us.  God is ever present and in our presence.  He can’t be found, He can only be accepted.  In creation, God instigated everything we know.  We cannot by our own power instigate anything, that includes a relationship with God.  If I can’t instigate a relationship with any celebrity I want, why would I think I could instigate a relationship with the most powerful being in existence?  God is the great instigator, that includes truth, that includes life, and that includes our divine relationship.  God instigated a relationship with us while the earth was still without form, and void.  He’s already friended us, all we must do is accept it.  Then, everything changes.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Heavenly Father


You oughta pray for people who mistreat you, cause God doesn't take it kindly.” Joyce Meyer

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isiah 43:2

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

People often wonder why bad things happen to good people. It can be difficult to understand God at times. Understanding the ways of God is like a toddler trying to understand the ways of their parents. People have been debating what His role is in our lives for centuries. Luckily we have an example in Jesus, and I think it's a safe bet that we can view God the way Jesus did, as a Father. We are like children, able to hurt ourselves, but often times lacking the knowledge to know what can hurt us. He is ever watching over us, wanting to help and protect us. But like a human father allows his children to learn from mistakes, God waits till we ask, to step in. So let's invite God into our lives, trust in Him, and not worry when other's try to damage our lives, because we have an all powerful Father in heaven that is solicitous to our problems. Like Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us.”

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Leaning


“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”  Dorothy C. Fisher

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version)

Contingent:  “occurring or existing only if (certain other circumstances) are the case; dependent on”  New Oxford American Dictionary

It’s easy to lean.  That’s why people do it.  When we’re kids, our parents provide our meals, our clothes, and whatever other provisions we may need.  We lean on them for their support while we can’t support ourselves.  Then we grow up.  Life becomes a little harder.  The weight of the world gets a little heavier.  The very things we used to look to for support begin bearing their weight on us.  We’ve been raised to be strong and independent, we’ve been raised to be upstanding and productive citizens, and we feel like we may fail.  What can we do?  We can lean!  When all else fails, God is there to support whatever burden we have.  And it’s not just when all else fails, God wants us to lean on Him when times are good just as much as when times are bad.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  So while our mothers taught us not to lean on the efforts of others.  Our Heavenly Father teaches us to lean on Him.  He is the Rock of salvation, He is the foundation to build upon, and He is the support we need, not just when we need to lean, but at all times.  No, leaning is always necessary, but it’s what we lean on that makes all the difference.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just Say It!


“Say the words, say the words, say I love you.”  Toby Mckeehan and Mark Heimermann  (From the song Say the Words by DC Talk)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  Romans 13:8 (New International Version)

Munificence:  “the quality or action of being lavishly generous; great generosity”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Just do it!  Just do it?  Just say it.  Say it again, and again and again.  I love you.  The three little words that describe the reason for this world, the motivation for this world, and the inspiration that makes this world a beautiful place.  Without love, there is no “doing.”  Without love, we can’t “just” anything.  With love, we move mountains.  With love, we sail the oceans.  And with love we stoop on bended knee.  But how do we know love.  It’s ultimate expression depends on the individual.  For some, doing means everything, for others, attitude means everything, and there are those who appreciate the spoken word most.  For some the words come with difficulty, for others they flow naturally, but for everyone, they are perhaps the most powerful words in existence.  I love you.  There’s something vulnerable about that phrase.  Saying it with honesty means opening our hearts.  Saying it with honesty means we have to care.  Saying it with honesty means we can’t hide our feelings.  Let’s be free with our hearts.  Let’s be munificent with our love.  Let’s be honest, open, and sincere, and let the people we love know it.  That usually takes more than just words.  But the words are a requirement.

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

You're a Roller


“How can I doubt my value, when I’ve already been purchased.”  T.D. Jakes

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New International Version)

Bedraggled:  “dirty and disheveled”  New Oxford American Dictionary

You’re no Hyundai, you’re a Rolls Royce.  I mean no slander against Hyundai, they make great cars.  But you won’t find many kings or queens chauffeured in one’s back seat.  No, kings and queens prefer vehicles worthy of their perceived majesty.  They want vehicles that make them appear to be kings and queens.  Think of this, the Ruler of the universe chose you.  He wasn’t looking for a bargain, He didn’t have to cut a deal, He wanted you so badly He was willing to sacrifice His own Son.  Is there anything you want so badly you would sacrifice a life for it?  I guess my analogy of the Rolls Royce is wrong isn’t it.  No car, no matter how beautiful, is worth the life or injury of an only begotten son.  We’re all worthy of a king.  We know because the greatest King, the King of kings, has already purchased us with the life of His only begotten Son.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16  God wants to enjoy everlasting life with us.  He wants to enjoy our company.  And He wants to have a relationship with each one of His creations.  Remember, when God finished creation, He said in Genesis 1:31 that it was “very good.”  God designed us, God purposed us, and God made us very well.  He thinks we make Him look not only like a king, but God.  Sin has bedraggled our societies, it’s tarnished our image, and it’s filled us with guilt and shame.  But God has redeemed us, He’s justified us, and His greatest desire is our salvation.  We just have to say yes.

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

Icebreaker:  If you could be an automobile for God, what kind would you be and why?  For example you might be a Cadillac, a Prius, or a Corvette.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Principal


“Strong leaders encourage you to do things for your own benefit, not just theirs.”  Tim Tebow

“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.”  Jesus, Matthew 18:7 (New Living Translation)
Principal:  “the person with the highest authority or most important position in an organization, institution, or group”  New Oxford American Dictionary
Do you ever do things you don’t want to do?  Paul lamented in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  For anyone who’s ever been addicted to anything, you know that at times it can be impossible to do what it takes to break the power of our inner desires.  Paul knew that even he, the author of the majority of the New Testament, was a slave to sin, he knew that sin lived in him.  He knew that even though he wanted to do what was right, he couldn’t do it on his own.  He knew that it takes help, it takes humility, and it takes a leader to find the way out of the place where we can’t resist on our own.  We are all tempted, we are all addicted, we are all in need of a leader.  Thankfully, there is one leader that knows absolutely what is to our benefit.  There is one leader who knows the way.  There is one leader we all need to be following.  He is the Principal and Creator of the universe.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Hebrews 12:2  And faith in Him is the key that unlocks the doors to the ultimate benefits of life.  That’s why Paul finished his lamentation in Romans 7:25 with the exclamation, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading.
Jake
Conversation Starter:  Hebrews 12:2 says that we are the joy set before Jesus.  What does that mean to you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

He'll Never Forget


Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

Adulation: “obsequious flattery; excessive admiration or praise” New Oxford American Dictionary

Chances are you haven't heard of a company called “Center Rock,” or it's president Brandon Fisher. I know I hadn't, not until I heard some names recited by President Barack Obama during the 2011 State of the Union speech. You see, those are the names responsible for something called “Plan B,” a plan that turned out to be the successful operation that rescued 33 trapped miners from 2000 feet below ground in a Chilean mine. Brandon Fisher and Richard Soppe from Center Rock arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after the miners were discovered alive and stayed there for much of the rescue operation, offering their expertise and help throughout the process. It was their plan that those miners owe their lives to. However, on the 12th and 13th of October, while the news cameras were rolling on the miners appearing one by one from the half mile long rescue tunnel, neither Brandon or Richard were anywhere in sight. Instead, they opted to watch the rescue on their televisions and celebrate at home, far away from any source of public praise or adulation. And even though they may not have received the public appreciation they deserved, everyone in that company felt deep pride in what they were able to accomplish. We'll all accomplish things in life from time to time that go without immediate recognition. That should not sway us from using our talents in the most effective way possible to help our neighbors. It's not the rewards we receive here on earth that we should be striving for, but the greater rewards we are blessed with from our Father in heaven. He will never let us down and will never let our accomplishments go ignored forever.

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

P.S. Humility is hard for me. Does it come easy for you? How do you foster it in your life?