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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Friday, March 29, 2013

Shaped by Love

“The things we know best are the things we haven’t been taught.”  Luc de Clapiers 

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.  1 Corinthians 10:23

Fuliginous:  “obscure, murky”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Just what does obedience have to do with Christianity?  We know we are saved by God’s grace and the salvation He offers through the cross.  But what about the law?  What about in the Bible where God told the Israelites He would bless them if they kept His statutes and punish them if they did otherwise?  Can that happen to us?  Can we be blessed in obedience and punished in disobedience?  And if so, to what degree do we need to keep His statutes?  To what degree can we be punished?  Let’s explore the possibilities and the boundaries.  To the Israelites breaking the sabbath was deserving of death.  As Christians we’re told our sins are forgiven and that we can be saved no matter what.  Ok, so we know that Jesus forgave all sins on the cross, both past and present.  We know that the sins of the Israelites in the desert are forgiven as much as ours.  But they still suffered stiff consequences for disobedience.  Can we?  Is there a code of conduct we must live by?  A code that if not followed leads to punishment or even death?  If so, what is it?  I’m gonna go out on a limb here, be bold, and say that, there is not.  There is no lifestyle, no rules, no code of conduct a Christian must live by.  However, in saying that, I have to be bold once more and say that there is a Christian lifestyle.  There are rules Christians will follow.  There is a code we will live by.  Notice however the difference between “must” and “will.”  Once we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior there is nothing we “must” do.  But there are so many things we “will” do.  Not because we have to.  Not necessarily because we want to.  But because we just will.  I know this sound fuliginous, but there’s something about Jesus that changes from the inside out.  His grace transforms through the power of love.  It’s that love that conforms us to His will.  Through His love a new life is formed.  A life, not about following rules, but about following Jesus.  And when we keep out eyes on Him, “The Author and finisher of our faith,”  Hebrews 12:2a the distractions and sins of natural life are not so alluring.  We’ll never reach perfection here on earth.  We’ll always be distracted and fail.  But knowing that we’ve already been forgiven changes everything.  No, there is nothing we must do.  But there is so much we will do.  When we are changed by His love and His joy.

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, March 28, 2013

Grace For Granted

“Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor,”  Latin phase meaning, “I see and approve of the better, but I follow the worse.”

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?  by no means!  It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.  For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  Romans 7:13-20

Infirm:  “week of mind, will, or character”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

If you see yourself doing what you do not want to do...  Praise the Lord!  You’re ahead of the curve.  It’s much better to recognize the faults in our lives, than to live lives of supposed perfection.  No one is perfect.  No one is perfect.  No one is perfect.  However, we can all attain righteousness.  That is righteousness through the cross.  If I get on my knees and can’t think of something to confess to the Lord.  I know I need to at least confess my self righteousness.  It’s true that we are saved by grace.  And what a grace that is.  It’s also true that grace is required for us to be saved.  It’s not a luxury to be abused and taken advantage of.  Grace should never be taken for granted.  Actually, in the true sense of the word, it absolutely should.  When we accept the love and sacrifice of Jesus in our hearts and make Christ our Lord and Savior, grace should be taken for granted.  And how great is that?  That we can know our mistakes, understand we’ll always make mistakes, and realize they’ve already been forgiven.  Here’s where I could qualify my statements and say something like, “However, that doesn’t mean we continue a life of willful sin...”  But I’m not going to do that in this message.  Do you know why?  Because I know that when grace is accepted, the desire to abuse it disappears.  Ya, we’ll always make mistakes.  But grace has a way of pointing out our imperfections more than anything else could.  It’s in  accepting the free grace of God that we begin to see sin more and more clearly.  That’s why there are times in a Christians life when we lament our wrongdoings.  We see them so clearly, but we can’t avoid them.  There times in a Christian walk when we need to take grace for granted.  Because, if the phrase, “No one is perfect,” is true, we know we’ll never be perfect.  Not until that grace earned on the cross comes to full fruition.  Not until the promise of Jesus is fulfilled.  Not until He comes to take us to His Fathers house will we be perfected.  “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’” says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”  Isaiah 1:18  I can’t wait until that day.  But for now, we’ll have to take grace for granted.  Praise the 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

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Proof!

“So let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.  Let my love look like You, and what You’re made of.  How you lived, how You died, love is sacrifice.  So let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.”  Chorus from the song The Proof of Your Love by King and Country

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Fathers kingdom.”  Matthew 26:26-29

Credulity:  “readiness or willingness to believe especially on sight or uncertain evidence”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What’s the difference between Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Satanism for that matter; if they all produce the same product?  What sets apart a Christian man or woman from the rest of the world?  What makes one better than the other?  Is one better than the other?  Or some more credulous than the others?  Love...  Sacrifice...  Indeed those things exist without Christ, but without Christ much of their value is lost.  Why is Christ so powerful?  Some would say it’s because of what He did.  Because He loved people so much that He allowed Himself to be crucified.  But there are other people who have died for love.  There are other people who have been tortured to death.  What sets Jesus apart?  This is what sets Him apart.  He was and is the Son of God.  Jesus wasn’t crucified for His love.  He wasn’t crucified simply because He defied many of the rulers of His day.  He wasn’t crucified because He claimed to be God.  He was crucified because of me.  Because I sinned and will sin.  Because every person who has ever and will ever walk this earth; has, will, and continually falls short of perfection.  He had to die because of me.  He was the last sacrifice by His chosen people.  When He died the curtain to the most holy place tore from top to bottom, revealing to anyone who would choose to see, the glory of God.  It ruined the temple meant for holy worship and sacrificial offerings and built a new covenant founded on the ultimate and final sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There are good people in every religion.  People who genuinely love.  People who would give there lives in sacrifice.  What sets Christianity apart?  Nothing if it’s about us.  Everything if it’s about Jesus.  Our sacrifice is worthless.  If I died for you tomorrow, what would it do?  You are eventually going to die.  If I gave you everything I have to support you, what would it give you?  Maybe temporary comfort.  It’s not about what I do.  It’s not about what you do.  Or Billy Graham.  Or Barack Obama.  It’s about what Jesus did when He created this world.  What He did on the cross.  And what He does in our hearts.  When we make our lives about that, something different emerges.  Something that should be peculiar.  I’m not sure I can even say what it is.  But it’s kinda like one of the most famous phrases to come out of the United States Supreme Court.  “I know it when I see it.”  There is nothing that we can define completely and accurately in words.  Let alone a person and what they live for.  My question for all of us is this.  What do people see when they see us?  I pray they see a glimpse of the love bore out on the cross for 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

Friday, March 22, 2013

Grace Proffered


“The greatest possible services of man, to man must appear contemptible, when compared with “The unspeakable mercies of Christ:””  William Wilberforce

Let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for His mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.  2 Samuel 24:14b

Proffer:  “to present for acceptance”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Today is friday.  How does the phrase go?  “TGIF - Thank God It’s Friday!  Christ died, was crucified, was tortured on a friday.  For what?  To proffer to us salvation.  So yes, thank God for friday.  Not because it’s the end of our work weak.  But that it’s the end of laboring for the grace of God.  It’s the end of that labor because Jesus performed the ultimate task in His labor.  He died so that we could freely accept His love and His grace.  He died because, “The wages of sin is death.”  Romans 6:23a  But He didn’t want us to die.  He didn’t want death to be permanent.  That’s why “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23b  Grace is not human kindness.  It’s not a gift we can give.  It’s “Unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary  I pray that we accept the gift of God proffered to us.  I pray that we cherish His grace.  I pray that we know the regeneration brought about by the cross.  And I pray that we be sanctified by His love.  It’s that simple.

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, March 21, 2013

Service and Selfishness

“A man is called selfish, not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.”  Richard Whately

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.  Proverbs 18:1

Capricious:  “not logical or reasonable”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This world doesn’t have time for selfish people.  That’s a bold statement that you may find to be capricious.  However, I think if we explore its limits you may agree that it’s true.  Ok, I agree there are selfish people prospering, but are they happy?  And when you think of a prospering selfish person who do you think of?  Is it the guy in the Porsche, is it Bill Gates?  If someone has more than we can afford does that mean they’re selfish?  Does wealth indicate self centeredness?  Probably in a lot of cases.  But is your average rich guy or gal any more selfish than me, your average middle class guy?  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, probably not.  And here’s the reason why, in the form of your answer to this question.  How many wealthy people can you think of that don’t contribute to their society?  I know you may be thinking of drug pushers, professional thieves, or others who deal in nefarious trades.  But remember, wealth comes in more forms than just money.  Wealth also comes in family, in happiness, in humility, in fulfillment, in joy...  In fact, I don’t consider a person with a ton of cash and the desire to end it all in depression to be wealthy.  I don’t consider the corporate CEO who can’t seem to find joy to be wealthy.  True wealth comes with satisfaction.  It comes with humility.  It comes with service.  To be wealthy, you have to contribute.  Want to have an abundance of joy?  Spread joy.  Want to have a ton of money?  Spread money.  Want to be fulfilled?  Fill.  No, this world doesn’t have time for selfish people.  Every dictator has their day of reckoning.  Every thief has their day in court.  And everyone who abuses receives their due.  Have something nice?  Use it as an opportunity to serve.  Have a big smile?  Use it to make others smile.  Have the joy that comes through the love of Jesus?  By all means share it.  Frugality is a trait many of us have been raised with.  It can be a quality.  However, it can also be a detriment.  We may save, save, save; but what’s the point if we can’t give, give, give.  To give should be our purpose.  So the next time you see a guy with something we can’t have.  Or a girl enjoying riches we could only dream of.  Think of what they may have done, how they may have served, or what they may have provided.  What have we given?  What have we provided?  What have we shared?  Don’t feel we have much to share?  Than share Jesus.  Don’t have Jesus?  Ask Him into your heart.  He’s the source of all riches.  The greatest example of service.  And the Creator of this world.  In the end He calls the shots.  Let’s not be selfish, let’s serve.  

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, March 20, 2013

I Belong to You

“When these pillars get pulled down, it will be you who wears the crown, and I’ll owe everything to you.  How much pain has cracked your soul?  How much love would make you whole?  You’re my guiding lightning strike.  I can’t find the words to say, they’re overdue, I’ve traveled half the world to say, I belong to you.”  From the song I Belong to You by the band Muse

Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalm 119:105

Abstruse:  “difficult to comprehend”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

To be honest, when I woke up this morning I had the chorus of Ho Hey by the Lumineers playing in my head.  They say, “I belong to you, you belong to me, you’re my sweetheart.”  Those were the only words I could remember, and I couldn’t remember the song title so I just googled “I belong to you lyrics” and the first result that popped up was, I Belong to You by Muse.  There is nothing I can find on the internet that supports Muse being a Christian band in any way.  However the opening lines of this song are unmistakably Gospel.  Whether they’re intended to be or not.  We all set up pillars in our lives.  We all want to feel like we’re in charge, we’re responsible, we’ve got it handled.  Eventually they will be pulled down and we’re promised Jesus will wear the crown.  I had a friend ask me why people always give God credit for the good things and blame the bad things on evil.  After much though my answer is, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28  Jesus is the proof of that.  How much pain cracked His soul?  “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.””  Matthew 26:36-39  How much love would make Him whole?  The love of the father.  “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.”  Matthew 28:2-3  That lightning strike, that resurrection, is what guides to this day.  He says, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12b  In that moment of realization no one can find the words to say.  But for many they’re long overdue.  “I belong to You.”  

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, March 19, 2013

What Shall We Fear?


“I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind me, the God of angel armies is always by my side.”  From the song Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep”  John 10:7-11

Hypothecate:  “to put in pledge by delivery, as stocks given as security for a loan.”  Dictionary.com

I’m an idiot!  Just remember that as I tell you this little story.  I’m just an idiot.  So feel free to laugh at me.  Honestly I don’t mind.  I can remember about a year and a half ago I think around late summer 2011, I went to the doctor to see if I could take a certain medication.  Well, in order to take this medication a liver test was required, since it’s pretty harsh on livers.  The test came back with peculiar results, so I made an appointment to talk to my medical provider about it.  As it turned out my liver counts, if you know anything about them, were fairly high.  I think around four times higher than what they should have been.  I know what you’re wondering, and no I don’t do anything that should harm my liver to that extent.  That I know of.  I remember leaving the doctors office with what felt like a question mark over my head.  I wondered if I had cancer, if my liver might be failing, if I had long to live, etc.  I was realizing my mortality, and was wondering my fate.  Whitney and I had started our adoption process not too long before and I wondered if I wasn’t meant to be a dad simply because I didn’t have long to live.  I wondered what would happen to my family if I died.  I took a long walk and enjoyed life.  I went to work and acted normal.  But I drove home in a haze.  I felt like I was getting ready for a trip.  Obviously, that’s been a while ago and I’m still here.  At the time I took a battery of tests and went to see an expert.  Nothing was definitively wrong with me.  I even had a doctor chuckle at my concerns.  Remember I’m an idiot.  But I’m still left with the memory of contemplating the end of my life.  I can tell you this.  We’re not meant to live like that.  Should we be prepared for the end.  Absolutely.  We all have an end coming.  Should we dwell on it.  Definitely not.  If you’re reading this, you have more life to live.  I’m not scared of dying.  But I’m not looking forward to it either.  And if I had to guess I think that’s how God wants it.  He wants us to be ready for whatever His purpose for us is.  For most of us that means living now, going home later.  The cross means that we shouldn’t have to fear death.  That Christ already followed through on His hypothecation for our sins.  That death is just a doorway to life.  However, Jesus also called us to spread His word.  That requires life here and now.  A life He promises to be abundant.  How cool is that?  That we can be joyous in life and hopeful in death.  Death is not what we were designed for.  But God in His wisdom and mercy made it something of Him.  He goes before us and He stands behind us.  What shall we fear?

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, March 15, 2013

Mattering for Him

“Causa latet, vis est notissima” - Latin phrase meaning - “The cause is hidden, the results well known.”

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4:8

Apostasy:  “abandonment of previous loyalty”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Does it matter how good a writer I am?  Does it matter that I have a desire to do good in the world?  To make a difference?  Does that matter for any of us?  What does anything matter without a source?  The greatest poet would be nothing without inspiration.  The greatest builder would be worthless without material.  And the greatest men and women would be dead without their creator.  In his letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1  In his book True Christianity William Wilberforce writes in essence, that the world will tell us that people are generally good.  But that we’re tempted away from being good by various distractions and perhaps evil forces.  “The cause is hidden, the results well known.”  Is that right?  Philosophers talk a lot about causality.  It seams philosophy is always drawn to the ultimate question of humanity when we rely on humanity.  That is, where are we from?  Philosophers like to posit ideas, create their hypothesis, and test the results.  They’re simply trying to find causality for humanity.  What are we?  Where are we from?  What motivates us?  Why are some good and some bad?  We can see the results.  People kill, steal, and rape.  But people also give, sacrifice, and humble themselves.  Why?  Is there a mean righteousness to humanity?  Are we all born with an average of tendencies that are then influenced and adjusted by circumstances?  If that were the case it would follow that people with the best circumstances would be the happiest and best people.  But that’s not the case.  Studies show that often the happiest people are the people who have endured trials.  “Without love I am a noisy gong.”  “God is love.”  There is an answer.  There is a cause.  His name is Yahweh.  He is God.  Is He hidden?  Yes.  Can He be known?  Yes.  What does that take?  Asking for His revelation.  In his book, Wilberforce went on to say, “Far different is the humiliating language of Christianity.  From it we learn that man is an apostate creature, fallen from his high original, degraded in his nature, and depraved in his faculties.”  What does that mean?  It means we need a Savior.  It means we need Jesus.  People are not naturally good.  We are not born with an average goodness that is then plus or minused by events.  I think we all know that.  There is the argument that we are the results of our genetic makeup.  Some people’s brains are different and respond differently.  That’s true.  But without God what are the options.  Drugs?  Treatment?  There are times when those things are needed.  They can be valuable.  But we all, always need our Creator.  He is the source of value.  He is the source of love.  The source of life.  He can’t be replaced with medicine or advice.  With Him, with Jesus, we can all be saved.  No matter what we’ve done, what we think, or what we desire.  We need His love to feel loved, to love.  It is for Him that our talents and our blessings gain true value.  Does it matter how good we are at what we do?  It matters to Him.  And it matters most when it’s for Him.  Let’s matter 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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Praise Be To God

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”  George Washington

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”  And God granted his request.  1 Chronicles 4:10

Copious:  “yielding something abundantly”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

If you were to go to Washington D.C., stand at the reflecting pool and look due east, you would see the worlds tallest stone structure, and the tallest true obelisk ever built.  At its peak is an aluminum apex.  Facing north, south, and west are various inscriptions naming people responsible for its design and construction, dignitaries in attendance of the laying of its cornerstone and capstone, and significant dates of its construction, among other things.  On the east side a single latin phrase is etched.  It says “Laus Deo,” meaning “Praise be to God.”  The United States is and was founded on the notion that it is a Christian nation.  Some 70 percent of its citizens claim to be Christians.  That includes me and probably you as well.  But do we act like it?  Do we live like it?  Do we love like it?  In the towers we erect in our lives; our miniature empires of houses, cars, jobs, education, children, even churches, could we say what is said at the top of the Washington Monument?  It’s easy to forget the source of our blessings.  After all, the world seems to provide what we need.  Many who would laugh at the idea of placing trust in God, go home to mansions, where we imagine they perpetually smile, basking in their wealth.  However, studies have shown that the difference in happiness between a person who earns $50,000 a year and $50,000,000 a year is slight at best.  “Praise be to God.”  That’s a phrase we should ascribe to everything we have.  It’s a phrase that if lived by, could change this country, this world, and our lives.  It names the source of our blessings and our satisfaction.  Without it, all the wealth in the world is worthless to provide happiness.  With it, the most meager of belongings can bring the deepest satisfaction.  “Praise be to God.”  Do we dare etch that on our hearts?  I pray that we do.  I pray that our glory goes to God.  That He richly blesses us.  Not just with things, but with satisfaction.  That’s the greatest source of happiness.  He’s the greatest source of joy.

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, March 11, 2013

Tools of Purpose

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”  Henry Miller

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

Wile:  “a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would say to you, “Idle hands are the devils workshop?”  You would then be given a chore or two and the complaining would begin.  Maybe that never happened to you, but it sure happened to me more than once.  The thing is, is it really true that doing nothing leads to doing the wrong thing?  Is it true that relaxing opens us up to the wiles of the devil?  Is it true that hard work always results in righteousness?  Maybe sometimes, but mostly no.  What is true, is that we need a purpose.  What if everything we did had a purpose?  That’s a nice sounding questions meant to make a statement.  However, when I hear it I immediately start feeling overwhelmed.  What do you mean everything I do should have a purpose?  When can I rest?  When I say everything should have a purpose, I mean, we should be able to have an explanation for everything we do.  If we’re watching a movie we should be able to state a reason for watching.  And if we’re working we should be able to explain what we’re working for and toward.  That ability gives our actions purpose, no matter what they are.  You see, it’s in purpose that the devil finds many of his footholds.  It’s not that being idle opens us up for temptation.  Rather, it’s not having or knowing a purpose to our actions.  Be sure, everything we do already has a purpose.  Being aware of that purpose allows us to answer the question, “Who am I serving?”  It’s not what we’re doing, but who we’re serving that makes all the difference.  Life is not about us.  It’s about our Creator and our purpose for Him.  It’s in His purpose that He wants to bless us.  It’s in His purpose that we become aware of the love, joy, and satisfaction He provides.  And it’s in His purpose that He saves.  I pray that in all we do we are able to label it with a purpose.  That everything we do will have an honorable goal for our Creator.  May we have an answer for every action we take.  May we be aware of Him.  And may we be a tool, effective for our Maker.

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, March 8, 2013

Secrets and Privacy


“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”  George Washington

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.  Luke 8:17

Nefarious:  “flagrantly wicked or impious”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What we do behind closed doors is not a secret!  Nope, it’s not.  And many of us right now are thinking.  Well, ya they are.  At least I can make them a secret.  Nope, you can’t.  God said to the Israelites that if they didn’t follow His commands to, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”  Numbers 32:23b  That’s kind of scary.  At least it is for me.  However, it speaks of the reality that God can see everything we doAnd He takes account for our actions.  What’s more, more often than not, the things we are so desperately trying to keep a secret will be found out by people too.  Secrets are hard to keep.  Just ask any government.  People love to know secrets.  Then they love to let people know that they know a secret.  Thereby secrets are destroyed.  And really, the things we try to keep absolutely private, are the secrets we keep in our lives.  Now there is a difference between privacy and secrecy I know.  People know what’s going in most homes.  And most of the time that’s something that should remain private.  But at the same time, I think we would all agree that there should be very few secrets in a home.  I think we’d all agree that secrets are often an indicator of nefarious actions.  Unless of course they are for the purpose of protecting innocence.  Right now the internet and it’s involvement in our lives is growing exponentially daily.  So one of the things we hear about all the time is our right to privacy on the web.  We can talk about our right to electronic privacy all day long.  The reality is that we have none.  If we think we are being secret and private on the internet.  Well, we’re just wrong.  Sure, no one else may ever see what we do on the web.  But if that’s the case, we’re just lucky.  And there’s one thing for certain.  God still sees everything we do.  Whether it’s in reality or cyberspace.  And remember when I said He holds account for everything we do?  Let’s thank Him that He’s already accounted for our sins and our secrets on the cross.  Let’s thank Him that He understands the temptations we struggle with.  The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.”  That High Priest is Jesus.  He knows what it was like to be tempted by the desire for wealth and fame.  He knows what it was like to be tempted by sex and objects.  And He is the only person who has ever resisted every temptation set before them.  And yet He died for sin.  Thank God we don’t have secrets.  Thank God He knows everything we do.  Because of that, and because of His desire to save us, He died for us a sinless man and a perfect God.

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, March 6, 2013

Failure Is Not An Option


“Today’s excuses are tomorrow’s regrets in disguise.”  Steven Furtick

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

Meritorious:  “Worth of reward, gratitude, or esteem”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Since when is failure an option?  Since when can we be content with the ills of this world?  I’ll tell you this.  While failure may not be an option, it is a reality.  While the ills of this world may not be bearable, they are a reality.  However, what’s more important is that our Savior is also a reality.  For Him, failure was not an option.  For Him, contentment with the ills of this world is an impossibility.  For Him, something had to be done.  A sacrifice had to be made.  I almost didn’t write today.  I almost posted an old message.  In fact I did.  And in fact I just removed it.  I posted the old message because I didn’t feel like I had anything important to say.  Usually I feel something laid on my heart to talk about.  Not this morning.  Not till now.  Would it have been a failure to repost a message that’s over two years old?  I don’t know.  But it didn’t seem like an overwhelming success either.  And it’s in those times of falling short that we are often given the message He’s trying to send.  Failure is not an option, but it is a reality.  By that I mean, it’s not something we should allow to be accepted, but it’s something we have to bear.  It comes with disappointment, fear, and embarrassment.  It makes us angry, intimidated, and self conscious.  But there’s freedom in it too.  There’s freedom in it because we know that God covers our failure with His grace.  No, failure is not something we can be proud of, but it is something we can bear because of His love.  Because of His love God sent His son to die for us.  Because of His love Jesus calls us “the joy” to die for.  See Hebrews 12:2  Not because we’re perfect.  Not because we deserve it.  But because we’re not perfect.  We do fail.  And it’s in that failure that we get to meet a God, a Spirit, and a Savior able to perfect us for His glory, His presence, and His home.  So when we look back on life, we’ll see that our human failures were all a part of His success.  They’re not something to discourage us, but to motivate us.  Let’s never let failure produce an excuse.  Let’s never let failure result in regret.  Let’s never let failure turn our eyes off our Redeemer.  And in the end, with Him, we’ll be able to see that failure really was never an option.

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, March 4, 2013

The Reason

All this time, from the first tear cried 
‘Till today’s sunrise
And every sing moment between
You were there, You were always there
It was You and I
You’ve been walking with me all this time
From the song All This Time by Britt Nicole

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  He said, “But I will be with you...”  Exodus 3:11-12a

Paltry:  “trivial”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary  

Do you ever feel like taking a break?  Like being selfish?  Like not doing what you need to do?  Me too.  Everybody feels that way sometimes.  Probably a lot of times.  A lot of times I feel like I’m going to be best served by serving myself.  And sometimes we truly do need a break.  However, you know as well as I, that serving ourselves never brings satisfaction.  We were made for a purpose.  And it’s in meeting that purpose that we can find some fulfillment in our spirits.  I say “some fulfillment,” because fulfillment cannot be complete without partnership.  We were created for a reason.  That reason is different for all of us.  But that reason is never paltry.  Maybe the reason is to mow the lawn when it’s too long.  Work hard for the company that pays us.  Preach to a congregation needing encouragement.  Or holding the hand of our spouse.  There’s a reason we get up every morning.  I can’t tell you the reason.  Just that there is one.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know and carry out that reason.  And sometimes it’s difficult to partner up with the one who gave it to us.  Sometimes we’ll fail it.  Sometimes we’ll reject it.  But all the time there is grace.  Imagine skipping work for a week.  It probably wouldn’t go over very well and at the end of the week there probably wouldn’t be a reason to show up at that particular place of work any longer.  Thank God He is not like a normal boss.  No matter how often, or how long we skip out on Him, there will be a reason to show up for Him.  So if you’re struggling with your purpose, with a reason to be.  If you’re struggling to want to be with Him.  It’s good to know He wants to be with you.  He’ll never fail to partner up with you.  He doesn’t need you or I.  But He chose to give us a purpose and a reason because we need Him.  When we’re able, let’s ask Him to be our partner.  Let’s ask Him for a reason.  Let’s let Him fulfill our purpose.

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, March 1, 2013

Separation and Love


“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”  Bertrand Russell

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did to know Him.  1 John 3:1

Remiss:  “showing neglect of inattention”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Separation.  We all feel it.  We all know it.  We all live it everyday.  If you’re my wife’s parents you’re living (I should say, vacationing) geographically separated from much of your family in Costa Rica.  If you’re a particular ethnicity you may sadly feel separated from the much of society.  Or if you’re religious you may feel called to be separated from the world and its ways.  There is so much separation in this world and this country (the United States) right now that it is on the verge of becoming a crisis.  Not merely because there are differences in location, beliefs, or cultures, but because we are allowing our separations to drive us to conflict.  In fact, the only time many of us come together is in conflict.  Conflict isn’t always bad, often times conflict is the only way to resolution.  However, resolutions seem to be getting more and more rare these days.  Maybe it’s just me.  I hope it’s just me.  And the truth is, we will always live with and deal with separation.  And sometimes separation is a blessing.  We’ve all heard the old adage, “They fight like cats and dogs.”  Well sometimes it’s good to keep cats and dogs separated.  However, I noticed this morning my cat was nestled comfortably in the curve of my dogs neck.  There’s nothing more inspiring, more beautiful, than putting aside separations, putting aside differences, getting to know and love someone, or something, “on the other side.”  When we choose to relate to those we’re separated from we will see something we all have in common.  We all know what it is.  We all need it.  We all want it.  We all have it.  Sadly we don’t always share it.  It’s love! Love literally makes the world go round.  It was in love that God created the earth and put it into motion.  However, we too often choose to hold onto it ours.  Letting our boundaries and our separations keep us from sharing it.  It would be easy for me to end this message by simply exhorting us all to be more diligent in sharing our love.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the causality of our love in the first place.  It too, is love.  If you’re struggling with loving, and we all do.  Accept love.  I’ll say it again.  Accept love.  Accept love from you parents, your spouse, your neighbors, or anyone.  Most of all, accept the love of your Creator.  He died on the cross for you and for me.  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.”  1 John 3:1  How awesome is that!?  Now what does Jesus say?  “Love one another.  As I have loved you.”  John 13:34  We are all separated in some way.  That doesn’t mean we can’t come together.  John Lennon was right when he wrote, “All you need is love.”  But it’s His love that we really need.  And it’s there for the taking.  Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20  It is my prayer that the world would know Him, Jesus, that we would learn how better to receive love, His love, give love, His love, and put off the separations that bring conflict.

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