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 30, 2013

Heaven... Seriously!

“This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue”
- Excerpt from the Hymn This World Is Not My Home by S.D. Burton

but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:20-21

Waggish: “humorous in a playful, mischievous, or facetious manner” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Oh man!  I just got comfortable!”
How often, when we’ve just gotten comfortable, when relaxation is just setting in, when sleep is at is best, does the alarm go off, the phone ring, or the power go out?  All of a sudden we’re ripped out of our comfort and thrown into an unwanted job.  Recently, while I was watching a sports event on the television, I noticed a somewhat peculiar banner hanging in the rafters of the stadium.  It named the associated team’s city and stated it “Is My Heaven.”  It would be the equivalent of a huge sign in Cowboys stadium stating, “Dallas Is My Heaven.”  I don’t mean to disparage the remark completely, many of us facetiously refer to the things we love as “Heaven,” or “Heavenly.”  But what have we made out heaven to be?  I for one don’t want to be locked in a stadium to roam cold bleachers for an eternity.  I don’t want heaven to be confined to a good meal.  I don’t think any of us would want to replace God’s perfect destination with a looped moment.  Remember the movie Ground Hog Day?  Every morning his alarm would play the same repeated announcements; heralding him into the exact same day, over and over again.  There is no day good enough that we would want to live it over and over again.  So is that what we really want to make heaven out to be?  No, God has something far better in mind.  He has the real Heaven in store.  There’s no place we can be that we wouldn’t want to be reminded of heaven.  There’s no experience we wouldn’t forfeit for a place like that.  There’s no comfort worth enjoying when Jesus calls us home.  
“Wait!  Is that the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes at the door?”
Heaven is so much more than even winning a lottery.

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

Jake

Friday, December 27, 2013

Perfect Humility

“Pride is concerned about who is right.  Humility is concerned about what is right.” - Ezra Taft Benson

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. - Ecclesiastes 7:20

Abase: “behave in a way so as to belittle or degrade” - New Oxford American Dictionary

You are not humble.  Neither am I.  Those are harsh and striking words.  But they’re essential to realize in order to approach a greater humility in our lives.  Did you ever do the experiment in school where you stood a certain distance from an object, then step by step approached that object by one half the distance at a time?  If you started six feet away, your first step would be three, then one and a half, then nine inches and so on.  Pretty quickly it became clear that you could never reach the goal by going just halfway at a time.  That fact is, you could have never reached the goal by going two thirds of the way, or even 99 percent of the way.  At some point in every journey, to reach our goal, we have to go all the way.  That’s true on a trip across town and it’s true in a journey of heart.  Humility is a destination just like anywhere else.  It’s something, somewhere, to be reached and traveled towards.  But we’ll never get there on our own.  And that’s ok.  What’s important is the journey.  However, what’s most important is the guide.  There will be a day when all humility will be a virtue we can have.  However, it takes an expert partner.  Someone to show the way.  It takes Jesus.  In our lives here on earth, we can never take anything more than a fractional step.  So while we may become the most humble person that has ever lived, we can never be fully humble.  That sounds discouraging, I know.  However, it can be uplifting when we realize that it’s not about us.  It’s about Jesus.  It always has been and always will be.  Because it’s through His humiliated righteousness on the Cross that He gives us the opportunity to take that full and final step towards perfection in heaven.  A place where we’ll be both perfected and humbled to completion.  Isn’t it funny that true humility can only come with true perfection?  Look in the mirror, take a look inside your heart.  Are you perfect?  Is there a blemish on your skin.  Is there a negative thought in your heart?  This may sound like a funny conclusion, but if so, if there is any imperfection in you, there’s no way that you’re truly humble.  

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

Jake

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cry To Jesus

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head for love is passing by

Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain

Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live

And like a new born baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall

So fall on Jesus 
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain

Then cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live

Oh, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night 
And when you can’t contain your joy inside

Then dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on glory’s side

And fly to Jesus
fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

- From the song Untitled Hymn by Christopher Rice

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” - 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Expiry: “the end of the period for which something is valid” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What can we say about death?  That it has no sting?  That it has no victory?  We have faith that death’s sting will be soothed, that it’s victory will be lost to love’s defeat.  But for us, it does have a sting.  It is victorious at the expiry of our lives here on earth.  It leaves us lonely and in despair.  All the metaphors begin to ring true.  The sun shines a little less brightly.  The colors loose their hue.  A piece of our hearts seems to go missing.  It isn’t normal.  Even though everyone dies, it isn’t normal.  It’s never accepted with gladness.  It’s never wanted.  But it makes its presence known non-the-less.  And so we cry and mourn.  We remember the good days.  We eulogize.  And time will mend our hurts.  Love will rebuild the hole in our hearts someday.  Still, for some of us, today will simply be something to get through.  And tomorrow too.  Until someday we can look back on a life lost and smile genuinely again.  I hate writing about death.  But it’s a reality.  A reality that’s been hanging over this family’s head for some time now.  This morning it finally rang true.  Cancer has won another battle.  But Jesus.  Jesus…  Jesus!  It won’t win the war.  When all heaven comes true.  When our Savior returns.  When we all meet again in that bright promised air.  That battle will be done and the war will be won.  But for today…  We will be missing that one.  Rest peacefully in the Saviors arms Julie Ann Baldridge-Dynes.
Please pray for our family.

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

Jake

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Beautiful Cragged Life

“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.” - Anne Frank

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. - Ecclesiastes 3:11

Crag: “a steep rugged rock or cliff” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A perfectly winding stream trails its way through a valley, surrounded by gray and white cragged mountains.  Sheep, goats, camels, horses, and a few people surround quaint, sometimes brightly colored circular dwellings called yurts.  Family, food, work, play; all exist just steps apart from one another.  Then the season changes and a new kind of beauty presents itself.  To me there is little more beautiful than the Chinese nomadic way of life.  Something about it fascinates me.  I’m drawn to it in a strange sort of way.  I love the rugged beauty of the whole thing.  As if it is the perfect blend of life and humanity.  Of civilization and wilderness.  But then I think, “What’s wrong with the way I live?”  “Is there beauty right in front of me that I’m missing?”  And so I take a look around.  Looking intentionally for the serenity of the life I live.  It’s here.  It’s everywhere.  I may not live like a nomad, but maybe I should look a little differently at the life given to me.  Those rose colored glasses aren’t just for someone else's life.  They can portray mine as well.  And yours too.  As I look around at my life, where I live, who I share it with, the luxuries available to me; I can’t help but be thankful for the beautiful life I get to live.  What beauty is there in your life?  That may be a sore subject for you.  That may be a question you’ve asked over and over, looking for something to grasp hold of.  It saddens me to know that some people aren’t as happy as others.  I wish that everyone could live the perfect life.  However, none of us do.  We’ll have to wait on heaven for that.  Still, Jesus wants to be a part of your life right now.  He created a beautiful world.  Sin has ruined much of that beauty, but His Spirit remains.  Living in us if we accept His presence.  And it’s that presence in us that makes any place, any life, beautiful.  Whether it’s in the Steppes of Mongolia, or the deserts of Iraq, there is beauty because of the Creator.  I hope you see it too.

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

Jake

Monday, December 23, 2013

Heirs To The Cross

“You can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” - From the song Give Me Jesus by Jeremy Camp

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. - Galatians 4:4-5

Heir: “a person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor” - New Oxford American Dictionary

How often do we hear about another cross being threatened?  People offended by its symbolism are on the attack.  It, and the faith it represents, are under attack.  But what do we do?  How do we respond?  Do we attack in return?  Do we fight a war in the name of Jesus?  I could keep on asking questions, but I think we can all ask them for ourselves.  And none of them has an answer we can give.  Wars have, are, and will be fought over Christ.  Wars that have taken lives and hearts.  So then can we say, “Jesus saves?”  Now there’s a question I have an answer to.  Absolutely, Jesus saves.  He saves through war, famine, genocide…  Through everything and anything He saves.  It’s painful, and it hurts to see our traditions go away.  The things we found hope and comfort in are being destroyed, and that is hard to handle.  However, if Jesus is truly God, do we have enough faith in Him to believe that He cannot be destroyed as well.  The Cross is a symbol of our beliefs, it is not Jesus Himself.  The world does not need more crosses.  It doesn’t need more wood crosses, steel crosses, or crosses made of stone.  What this world needs is Jesus.  Do we have Him?  If so, it is our job to share Him.  To let His love shine through our lives.  Sometimes that will look like harsh rhetoric.  Sometimes like a cross on a hill.  Sometimes it will look like a warm embrace.  It is not our job to condemn people, but at times, it may be our job to warn.  Gravity doesn’t ask us to smash people to the ground, but its existence requires us to warn of a cliff’s edge.  It’s been said, “You can’t legislate morality,” but that’s the purpose behind every law.  Still we know, legislation can’t change a heart.  Only a heart can change another heart.  A hateful heart will turn another towards hatred.  An indifferent one towards indifference too.  A loving heart…  What can that do?  And so we ask the question.  If Jesus is love, and Jesus is in our heart, what should our influence look like?  Giving up this world and EVERYTHING in it is never going to be easy.  But Jesus has to be first.  That may look like physical crosses coming down around the world.  But the Cross in our heart can never be taken away if we hold onto it in hope and faith.  Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” *  Through that action, we may see our pride and joy taken, we may see more crosses come down; but another will rise in a heart.  The true Cross of Christ is always the one that is carried in a heart.  Theres no better place for the Jesus to reside, than in a heart.
* Matthew 16:24

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

Jake

Friday, December 20, 2013

Being The "I"

“I am tired and sick of war.  Its glory is all moonshine.  It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and gowns of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.  War is hell.” - William Tecumseh Sherman

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, - Ephesians 6:10-18

Cloister: “seclude or shut up in or as if in a convent or monastery” - New Oxford American Dictionary

The sun was shining.  The grass was green and beautiful on the rolling hills.  Flowers were blooming and I could smell the freshness of late spring in my nostrils.  It was a beautiful day.  Puffy clouds dotted a crisp blue sky.  It was perfection wrapped up in a neat package with a bow to boot.  But then something strange happened.  The sun flashed.  Not off and on again, but just brighter, then normal again.  Oh well, it was just my imagination I thought.  But then it happened again.  Then again.  And again.  It couldn’t be normal, or my mind either.  I could hear a soft voice whisper quietly, “Get up…” Then louder.
“Get up, get up.”  And louder
“GET UP!”
The world flashed into reality.  And so did John’s flashlight.  
“Man stop with that thing.”  I grumbled.
“You took a pretty good whack, you ok?”  John asked, being careful to keep his light out of my eyes this time.
“I guess…  What the hell happened.”
“A piece of shrapnel slapped you upside the noggin, you’ve been out cold for about a minute now!”
Johns voice wasn’t quite the whisper it was in my dream anymore.  I don’t think it ever was.  Because in reality it was too loud to hear a whisper.  Only shouts could be heard.  My perfect dream world had been given to me by the enemy, now I was awake again and the bullets were still flying.  It’s a moment I’ll never forget.  War is hell and we’ll have to fight like hell to keep out of it.

Now imagine you’re the “I” in this story.  You may have never even seen a bullet, but you’re in a war none-the-less.  We’re all in a war with good and evil.  A war where hell isn’t just a term but a reality.  And the enemy would like to put you to sleep.  He’d like you to believe that everything is absolutely beautiful and perfect.  The sun is shining and the birds are chirping.  He’d like you to read the Bible and identify the sins with someone else.  He’d like to take the “I” out of you and your Bible and replace it with “So and so.”  But we have a role in this war too.  We have to fight the devil for our souls too.  Because that’s what this fight is all about.  You and I aren’t perfect.  The Lord is speaking to us as well.  He wants us to take His word seriously, and to heart, not just across the street.  That light that keeps flashing?  Maybe its the Son.  That voice?  Maybe it’s His.  He’s calling all of us to wake up…  Walk up, wake up.  WAKE UP!  No longer can we cloister ourselves away from the hurts of the world.  They’re a reality.  They must be faced and fought.  Because if not, they can kill us.  What is Jesus saying to you?  Can we put the “I” in His call and identify ourselves with it?  The helmet of salvation isn’t just for others, it’s for us too.  We all need the whole armor of God, just like everyone else.

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

Jake

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our Capital "F" Friend

“What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Blessed Savior, Thou has promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear.
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer.
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there. 

- From the song What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Joseph Scriven

Shout for joy, you heavens; 
   rejoice, you earth; 
   burst into song, you mountains!  
For the LORD comforts His people 
   and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. 
- Isaiah 49:13

Vicissitudes: “a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant” - New Oxford American Dictionary

You probably knew this already, but people like to be in charge.  Maybe not every single individual, but people in general.  We like to make our own rules.  Form societies where culture dominates.  And determine our values by writing our histories.  We form the truth according to ourselves, putting people in charge.  And some may say, “Who else would be in charge?”  “How else do we get at what truth is?”  “What could be better than a society where the majority rules with empathy, compassion, and understanding?”  Can you see how these arguments cut through the center of all human ideologies.  If you’re conservative, you may have labeled some liberal group as a perpetrator.  The same if you’re liberal.  On one edge you may have Marxism, on the other, Self-Reliance.  Both put people in charge.  Both get very confusing.  What happens when individuals take advantage of a society that says, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need?” *  And what happens when individuals need help in a society that places all its trust in “Self-Reliance?” **  Something has to give.  Where is the balance and the tipping point between the community and individual?  That question drives to the heart of humanity and our desire to solve a problem with a single answer.  And while the single answer is right in front of us, we often ignore it because we didn’t invent it.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Humanity is continually in need.  But this invention was born long before our necessities became clear.  The answer to all the problems we face is simply Jesus.  The truth in everything can be found in Him too.  Because He is the Creator of everything as well.  Start counting all the problems we face in this world.  Hunger, poverty, loneliness, greed, hatred…  People can’t solve those problems.  Not in the long term.  We can feed people.  But greed will take the bread right out of their mouth.  We can suppress wealth.  But power will demand it back again.  We can visit the lonely.  But hate will create another.  Years into the future we’ll be able to look back and laugh or cry at our feeble attempts to solve our problems today with human hands.  And in those days we’ll be focused on vicissitudes of a different kind as well.  And then that generation will die too.  It’s ironic that the best human solution to our human problems is found in the ultimate problem we face.  Death.  Death is an end to all the problems.  No more pain, or poorness.  No more greed, or power.  Nothing!  So what difference does it all make?  It’s discouraging to know that as much as we help, we can’t fix.  As much as we think, we can’t solve.  Let’s get back to Jesus.  He calls us to give up on greed, to feed the poor, to comfort the lonely and the sick.  Not because it will ultimately fix the problem, but because it’s the right thing to do.  Jesus doesn’t ask us for the solution, He asks us to accept His work.  Because it’s in His work that the solution is found.  Because of Him we have salvation.  Not just from our sins, but from our calamities as well.  A life lived for Him is a life that understands that life on this world is fleeting, but that eternal life is waiting.  What a capital “F” Friend we have in Jesus.

* Karl Marx (Communism)
** Ralph Waldo Emerson (Capitalism)

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

Jake

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Serve... From Any Place

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. - Romans 12:1

Ministration: “the provision of assistance or care” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“What’s your time for?”
A soft, somehow hollowy dead voice came from across the table.
Frank knew he had to be careful with his answer.  That the legal answer could put his life at risk.  So he answered truthfully.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know…” 
The strange voice across the table replied.
His answer wasn’t good enough.  
I guess everyone is in denial their first day of prison.  He thought to himself.
So he just said it.
“I was accused of a crime I didn’t commit.  I was put on trial for abusing a little girl in ways a little girl should never be abused.  It’s not true.  I never did what I was accused of.  But it’s hard to refute an accusation from your own daughter.  And so my answer stands.  I don’t know why I’m here.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a good enough dad.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a good enough husband.  Maybe it’s because of some hurt I’ve caused.  I don’t know.  What I do know, is that I’m here for a reason.  That I didn’t do what I’m here for according to the justice system, but for some good reason I’m here.”
The table went silent, as if this was the moment danger really began.  Sexual predators aren’t safe in prison.  They can’t be forgiven.  Not in prison.  And here he was.  In prison.  A sexual predator.  Why?

This is a completely fictional account.  But it happens.  Many people have gone to prison for crimes they really didn’t commit.  Sometimes their accusers simply have a vendetta against them.  Hurt wants to begat hurt.  And so people say things that aren’t true.  Simply to cause hurt.  And sometimes a punishment is deserved.  Maybe not for what is accused, but for what is true.  The two can be different.  The truth is, we all have something we deserve.  The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” *  And we suffer those consequences every day.  No one is perfect.  Everyone sins.  But for Jesus, we would all be lost.

Why?  Because God wanted him there.  Not to enjoy.  Not because he abused his daughter.  Not because he deserved this punishment according to the law.  But to serve.  Frank realized that even though the situation was awful.  Even though the life he knew was taken away.  Even though he was being punished for something he didn’t do.  He could still serve.

Every day we go through things we don’t necessarily deserve.  Every day we could see people who get rewards they don’t deserve too.  It could destroy us if we allowed it to.  However, we’re all right where God wants us to be.  If we would only serve from the place we’re at.  If you’re on the streets… Serve.  If you’re on your top floor corner office…  Serve.  No matter where we’re at…  Serve.  Remember, Jesus performed His greatest service while being crucified.

*    Romans 6:23

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

Jake

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Beginning

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” - Abraham Lincoln

The LORD is near to all who call on Him, 
   to all who call on Him in truth.
- Psalm 145:18

Malice: “the intention or desire to do evil; ill will” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name…” *  How often do we trust in the Lord’s prayer?  Is it enough?  Do we need to add to it?  Is it just a starting point?  I don’t know the answer.  “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” *  Certainly it’s enough for the Lord’s kingdom to come.  To right all the wrongs.  To assuage the needs of the poor.  “Give us this day our daily bread.” *  But in the meantime we still have needs.  Real needs that produce hunger and thirst, pain and sorrow.  Needs that can only be met by our Lord.  “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” *  We have something to do as well.  We can’t go on hating.  We can’t go on with prejudice and malice in our hearts.  We can’t hold these grudges forever.  And so we need to forgive those who have wronged us.  Just like we need the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.  We have to have the forgiveness of the Cross.  But still…  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” *  Because righteousness is hard.  In fact it’s impossible.  We need an Almighty help to deliver us.  That’s what the Holy Spirit is for.  To dwell within us and give us a north by which our compass can act upon.  

And so it’s enough to simply rely on the words Jesus gave us to pray by.  It’s enough to ask God to meet our deepest needs and trust that He knows them better than we do.  It’s enough to have a faith in Him.  I’m not saying that every prayer should be the Lord’s prayer.  But its template is enough to harness all that we need.  In it a relationship is born.  In it a conversation is started.  In it all that we need is asked for and all that we need is promised.  However, something about it begs us in humility to say the last line.  “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen.” **  You won’t find those words in most modern translations of the Bible.  They’re implicit, implied, and obvious.  But they’re beautiful none-the-less.  

So if you’re tired of asking for the same old things.  If you’re weary of saying the same old lines.  If prayer has become stale.  Try beginning again with the prayer Jesus taught us to pray with.  It’s a new beginning every time.  

* Matthew 6:9-13
** The Lord’s Prayer Doxology

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

Jake

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dot-To-Dot... The Masterpiece's Path

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father awaits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
- Excerpt from the song In The Sweet By And By by Bennett and Webster

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:6

Ethereal: “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Do you know where you’re going?  I know I don’t.  I’m not even sure how this message is going to end up.  That sounds kind of scary.  It sounds like it could lead to a life of manic confusion and fog.  But nothing could be more exciting, if you’re following the Lord.  Whether you know it or not.  Whether you’ll admit it or not.  None of us know where we’re going.  We may have a plan.  We may have set a destination.  But roads can close.  Plans can easily be changed by influence.  And destinations can lose their luster.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s good to have a plan for your life.  It’s good to know where you want to go.  But it’s more important to have a good leader.  A good leader can redirect a lost follower.  A good leader can show a better way.  A good leader can provide a better destination.  So I choose to follow God.  Hopefully someday I’ll have accomplished some of the things I’d like to do.  Hopefully I’ll have some of the things I’d like to own.  Hopefully this message will turn out ok.  Hopefully.  But in the meantime, I’m going to do my best to follow the Leader, the Lord.  With Him there is no hopefully.  There is destiny.  For me that means following step by step.  Sometimes writing word by word.  And that’s so exciting to me.  It’s like dot-to-dot.  Just follow from one to two, then three and four; and soon the picture appears.  What didn’t make sense before can become a masterpiece with God.  Let’s not rob ourselves of that final work.  Let’s continue on His path for our lives.  It won’t always be easy.  We won’t always be able to see far ahead.  However, it will be worthwhile.  Because a masterpiece is waiting at the end.

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

Jake

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Slow Down

“Talent is God-given.  Be humble.  Fame is man-given.  Be grateful.  Conceit is self-given.  Be careful.” - John Wooden

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, 
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good,
but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
Whoever guards his moth preserves his life;
he opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
- Proverbs 13:1-3

Quagmire: “an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Not everything needs to be rushed or hurried into.  When the roads get icy, when snow falls, when danger is a potential.  We slow down.  We watch carefully in order to drive safely.  We may even offer up a prayer for safe keeping.  But there are more dangers than just the physical.  There are social dangers.  Mental dangers.  And dangers for the soul.  Do we slow down to navigate the intricacies of an interpersonal relationship?  Are we careful with what we put into our minds?  Does purpose come into play in our spiritual lives?  All those roads are covered with snow and ice.  They may be beautiful at times, but beauty can lead to danger.  We need to be careful.  Careful when we are tempted to quickly reprimand a friend or family member.  Careful with the images we burn into our brains.  Careful with what we believe.  Because there is truth and there are lies.  There are dangers in what we see and think about.  There exists a reason for the behavior of another.  The wrong reaction.  Negligence and impatience.  Inattentiveness.  All the things that can put us in the ditch on a cold winter night can also put us in the quagmire of broken relationships, depression, and emptiness of soul.  So choose carefully the words with which you respond.  Choose carefully the influence you place in your life.  Choose carefully your god.  Because there is one true God. * There is One who cares. **  There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. *** 

*Deuteronomy 4:39
** 1 Peter 5:7
*** Proverbs 18:24

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

Jake

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Fixer

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” - Ronald Reagan

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9

Nefarious: “(typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Most of you I’m sure know what a “fixer” is.  But if you’ve never heard of one, a fixer is a person who fixes problems, usually of the nefarious kind, for notorious kind of people.  A debt owed, an overdose, legal troubles.  It’s their job to fix those types of problems.  What about our problems?  Everyday we face problems.  That’s why we go to work, go to the grocery store, or the pharmacy.  Problems are always arising and are continuous.  And they need to be fixed.  But what about the problems we can’t fix?  Life for example.  It ends and we can’t fix that.  Doctors and scientists have sought to solve the problem of life and health since their professions came into existence.  They’ve helped solve the problems of some disease.  But people still die.  And what if we solved the problem of death.  We’d be left with the problem of life.  We’d have to stop reproduction.  Or find new places to live.  We have problems we can’t solve.  But there’s Jesus.  He fixed every problem on the Cross.  Sin and sorrow, death and life.  They’re solved on the Cross.  We still suffer.  We still can’t understand.  But there’s the promise of more.  A new life with God in Heaven.  It’s that new life that ushers in new life here for us.  Babies born with a hope and a future.  Love extended to new people.  Love received from new life.  All provided by the new life with our Heavenly Father through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  So while we mourn our problems.  We too can rejoice in their solution.  The solution that’s already been bought and paid for.  The solution that is ultimate and forever.  The solution that is found in naming Christ our Savior and Lord.  Join me in accepting that solution for our lives.  It is life changing and problem solving.  Thank God for His Fixer, His Son, our Savior.

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

Jake

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pre-Wired...

“If you hang out with the chickens, you’re going to cluck, and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” - Steve Maraboli

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” - Jesus - Matthew 7:20b

Bereft: “deprived of or lacking something, esp. a nonmaterial asset” - New Oxford American Dictionary

If you were to look at the specifics of your car, you would probably see that it’s pre-wired for certain accessories.  You might see that it’s pre-wired for a navigation system, a phone, or a universal garage door opener.  And maybe all those things have the applicable accessory installed too.  However, most cars don’t come with every accessory pre-installed.  But they come pre-wired, so that the possibility of their installation remains.  You’ve been pre-wired too.  Wired to do great things.  Wired to have a purpose.  Wired to be fully loaded for God’s purpose in your life.  But what we’ve been made for isn’t available until we allow the installation of God’s accessories into our life.  We can’t live up to our full potential unless we make ourselves available to His modifications.  He’s pre-wired us, but for most of us, we have to decide what we want installed in our lives.  God wants us to be fully loaded, ready to do everything He meant for us.  The car in our driveway may have been made to accept a remote start feature, but it will never work until that feature is installed.  So too, we have been made to do great things, but we’ll never be able to do those things without the full power of God working in our lives.  But it goes further than that.  Not only has God pre-wired us for greatness.  He’s the gasoline in our tank.  He’s the power that sustains us.  He’s the energy the powers us up those steep parts in our lives.  He wants to be that navigation for us.  He wants to open doors for us and protect us.  He wants every part, every accessory, every upgrade He offers to be enacted in our lives.  But it takes an agreement on our part too.  But wait, there’s more…  All of His accessories and upgrades are absolutely free because of Jesus.  No strings attached.  No angle.  Just Jesus.  All it takes is JUST A YES!

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

Jake

Friday, December 6, 2013

Put A Name On It

“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of an artist.” - Robert Shumann

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” - Jesus - Matthew 14:27

Abiogenesis: “Biology. the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.” - Dictionary.com

How do you know when Donald Trump owns something?  It’s easy, his name is on it.  Well, not everything.  But much of what he owns bears his name.  How does anyone know what you do?  Is your name stamped on what you have and do?  Maybe your mailbox has your name on it.  Perhaps the back window of your family car.  Or the bottom side of your Tupperware.  But what’s in a name?  A name can represent a few things.  It can mean that something belongs to an individual.  It can also denote a creator.  Or it can state representation.  Your car’s registration probably has your name on it.  Maybe your house’ too.  Those are things that can belong to an individual.  What about the things we produce?  Do we have the courage to put our name on those things, like Rembrandt had the courage to put his signature on his frescos?  Do we create anything of value we can put pride into?  The Bible says, “Pride goes before a fall”* I know, but that’s not the type of pride I’m referring to.  And what are we represented by?  Now that’s a hard question to answer.  Maybe it’s best we stick to a better question.  What do we represent?  There’s a question we can grasp ahold of.  There’s a quandary who’s answer is valuable.  Do we represent money?  What about fame?  The Lord?  That question leads us back to the others as well.  Because it’s in what we represent that we begin to see the more powerful side of the other questions.  It’s in what we represent that we can start to get personal.  What are we a creation of?  Who’s name is on us?  Is it the Lord?  Whether we like or admit it or not, we are a creation.  We have a name besides the one our parents gave us.  We all represent something.  The question is, what is it?  Who is it?  If we’re the Lord’s, do we act like it?  If we represent a certain set of values, do we espouse them?  Do we realize the Creator?  It’s in answering those questions that lives are changed.  It’s in those questions that we are defined.  It’s in them that we can find peace.  Let’s find peace.  Let’s find peace in the greatest of artists.  The artist who not only can send light into our hearts, but created the heart and light too.  Let’s find peace in the peaceful one…  Let’s put a name on it and find peace in Jesus.
*Proverbs 16:8

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

Jake