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, April 26, 2013

Broken


“Learning obedience is the only way to have control of our own will.”  Andrew Murray

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20

Palpable:  “capable of being touched or felt”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Good morning Amy, can I get you to prepare the bar to serve coffee this morning?”  “And can I please get you to be here on time.  It’s important that we all are prompt and professional.”  
That’s it!  
She thought to herself.  
I’m here everyday.  I stay late everyday.  I work hard every day.  I’m never late...  
“Oh, and Amy, can you get the cash register ready too.”  
She fumed as she watched her manager and co-worker head to the restaurant next door to get a quick breakfast.  
She couldn’t stand it anymore.  The abuse.  The neglect.  
“I’m not going to let them take advantage of me anymore!”  She thought.  
Then she began doing something she had never done before.  
She began to sabotage.  
She got the coffee bar ready, but not for customers...  
“Where’s Amy?” 
 Her fellow barista asked when she returned from getting her morning sandwich. 
“I don’t know, did she leave?”  
“This is beyond weird, she’s never just left before.”  Her manager wondered out loud.  
“Look at this mess, what did she do?”  
Amy had snapped.  She couldn’t take any more.  She was going to get the world back for what it had done to her.  
She was tired of arguing with her boss every morning on the way to work, even if it was just in her head.  He had mistreated her too many times.  Now it was her turn.  He had to pay the price.  30 seconds doesn’t count as being late anyway!  
Just then her phone rang.  It was her mom calling to tell her how proud she was of her being such a hard worker and faithful employee.  
Amy broke...  
We’re all Amy.  It seems we’re all mistreated.  We all want to get even.  We all sabotage and make a mess of our lives.  We burn bridges and leave our messes behind, unable to clean them, even if we wanted to.  But there’s always someone behind cleaning up our messes.  Getting ready for the world.  
“Hey Amy, how can I help you?”  The text from her manager read.  
“We’ve got everything cleaned up and ready for you when you want to come back...”  
“Who is this God to tell me about my life?”  We’ve all asked.  “Constantly judging and pointing out my mistakes.”  
We all make mistakes.  And they’ll all be pointed out.  The Bible says, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Numbers 32:23  But we’re not alone.  God sent His son to be a co-worker in our lives.  He’s constantly cleaning up the messes we can’t fix.  The messes we’ve made with our own hands.  He pays the consequences for our anger, our sorrow, our mistakes, our...  
And no matter what we’ve done to sabotage life itself.  God invites us back to work for Him.  To work with Him.  He waits patiently for our return.  He’s sent us a text.  
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, an I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, of rI am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30  
No doubt you may have seen that text before.  But maybe you declined the invite before.  
We’ve all ignored it before.  
Let’s not ignore it this time.  God’s love is true and real.  It’s palpable and tangible.  There’s nothing like it. 

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, April 23, 2013

Cry Out!


“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.”  Brother Lawrence

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heave, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” - Jesus - Matthew 6:9-13

Obloquy:  “a strong condemnatory utterance”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

At this point in my life I don’t speak Spanish.  Ok, so I know a little bit like the rest of us.  But I’m far from being effective at communicating in it.  That doesn’t keep me from communicated however.  I just need an interpreter.  Now, if I’m using an interpreter to communicate with someone who speaks a different language, I don’t then try to speak in the other’s tongue.  No, I speak my own language and the message is interpreted for me and visa-versa.  It’s the same with God.  I can’t communicate with God on His level, in His language.  However, I can communicate with Him in my own language, in my own words.  I hear too often about people avoiding God because they don’t feel like they’re good enough, or they don’t understand His language.  Indeed, sometimes Christianity can seem intimidating.  People with a strong understanding of the Bible forget how to communicate the essence of the Lord.  That being love, hope, peace...  Often, the first thing Christians want to teach people is the language of God.  Or should I say, the language they think is of God.  We put limits on faith, and roadblocks to dialogue.  But if we’re honest, we’re all trying to learn how to be with God.  And none of us know the true language of our Maker.  And that’s ok.  God knows our language.  He not only understands our words, but comprehends our thoughts as well.  We should never be intimidated to come to God.  No matter how inferior we feel, or uneducated we are.  He’ll never respond in an obloquious manner.  Furthermore, as Christians, we should never discourage another from participating in the act of communication with God because of ignorance.  We’re all ignorant about our God.  We all should be seeking to understand Him further, and we all need His grace.  None of us know the language of God, however He is forever faithful and gracious, and He knows how to speak in ours.  God loves us and cars for us enough to send His word to us.  Sometimes it may be in a still small voice.  At other times it may be like booming thunder.  Always, it’s in His word we call the Bible.  Want to know how to communicate with God better?  Get in His word.  And practice.  Come to the Lord with your thoughts and desires.  He won’t reject you.  He loves you!  When we were babies all we knew to do was to cry.  Can you imagine a loving parent rejecting their child because they couldn’t speak a language fluently?  No.  It’s the same with us.  All we know is to cry to our God.  There is no shame in it.  It’s expected.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Notice how the spirit of slaver is lowercase and the Spirit of adoption upper?  The spirit of slavery is human.  The Spirit of adoption is of God.  The Spirit of adoption is God.  We’ve been adopted by God.  And as our Father, He will never reject our cries.  He understands and He cares.  Maybe we could all use a little more crying out.  There’s no trick to it, just speak.  It doesn’t matter our language or knowledge, He hears.  And best of all...  He answers!

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, April 19, 2013

Satisfied?


“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.”  Arthur C. Clark

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:54

Cornice:  “any of various other ornamental horizontal moldings or bands, as for concealing hooks or rods from which curtains are hung or for supporting picture hooks.”  Dictionary.com

What blows my mind is the amount of stuff we can be dissatisfied with.  Houses lose their value.  Cars lose their luster.  And there’s always something enticing us.  When we have an old car we want a new one.  Then we get a new one and want an old one.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting and having things.  But of what value are they in our lives?  To answer that we have to decide what our life really is.  Is it the years we have on earth?  No.  It’s eternity.  But an eternity of what?  I’m not sure I could say.  I certainly can’t predict your eternal future.  But God can.  He knows the destination of our paths.  He knows the satisfaction of our desires.  He knows what we need and don’t need.  I’m like you.  I would like to have a Ferrari and a yacht.  And I want a nice big house with a nice big piece of property and a nice big view.  Will I ever have any of those things?  I already do!  Maybe I don’t have a Ferrari or a yacht.  But I do have cars I love and what some would consider a nice big house.  I don’t have a big piece of property, but I do have a gorgeous view.  My point is this.  I could list a bunch of things I want.  And that’s fine.  But I also need to remember the things I have.  Try this as an experiment.  Try getting on your knees and thanking God for the things you have.  I mean everything that’s a blessing in your life.  Start investigating deeply what God has given us.  I tried it one time and was amazed.  The list of things to be thankful for seemed unending.  My list of desires paled in comparison.  We have transportation that’s easier than any other time in history.  Roads to travel on that could take us nearly anywhere we desired.  People who work for the public to make our lives better.  Concrete to put on our driveways and build our buildings with.  Sunshine to brighten our moods.  Rain to grow our foods.  Trees to give us shade.  Plains to give us vistas.  Windows that give us the ability to stay out of the elements but still provide a view.  Clothes that keep us warm.  Dirt that supports vegetation.  Rocks that provide beauty and stability.  Sand that softens a place to sit and watch the ocean.  See what I mean?  Blessing after blessing.  But are they satisfying?  I know there are some who would immediately replay with a resounding, “NO!”  Can they be satisfying?  Heck yes!  All of the elements of a blessed and satisfied life are there for the taking.  No, not everyone is satisfied with the same things.  But there’s no end to the choices in the smorgasbord of God’s gifts.  He wants to satisfy every soul.  Fulfill every life.  Expound every bounty.  The key is to realize that it’s all a blessing from Him.  My cars, my house, and all my other belongings aren’t something I’ve blessed myself with.  Ya, I’ve worked for them and pay for them with the money I’ve worked for.  But who gave me my ability to do my job?  Who put me in a place to do the job I do?  Who gave us intelligence to learn how to work together to make the world a better place?  God did.  And it’s in knowing that, that all things take on the form of a blessing.  It’s in knowing that all we have is a gift that we can begin to appreciate what we have, and at the same time be able to give it up.  A big house is great.  But how long are we going to live in it.  Not very long when we think of our lives as being eternal.  Cars and airplanes are cool, but not so much if we had the ability to fly.  There is so much more to look forward to.  By becoming attached to the cornices of this world we limit ourselves from enjoying them for what they really are.  Temporary gifts that are a mere taste of things to come.  Living for this world is like trading a billion dollar inheritance for a bicycle on our twelfth birthday.  Ya, we may have to wait for one, but with a proper perspective we won’t have to wait for long.  Plus, God wants us to have the bicycle too.  However, He want’s us to live for Him and with the perspective that He is the one who provides.  That He is able to clothe us in the imperishable and do the impossible in our lives.  It’s all about Him.  And He’s all about our satisfaction.  He even sent His son to die for us, so that we could have eternal satisfaction.

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, April 17, 2013

Love the Lord

I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice
Take joy my King
In what You hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear
(From the song I Love You Lord by Laurie Klein)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  Deuteronomy 6:5

Surd:  “lacking sense, irrational”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’”  Genesis 3:3  That was the first conversation the devil had with a person.  “You will not surely die.”  It’s a lie and we all know it.  But we all hope in it as well.  When we’re kids we jump off cliffs and airplanes and bridges.  We drive our cars too fast, drink too much, and party too hard.  We never believe we could actually die.  Then someone is killed.  So we straighten up.  We do what it takes to be healthy, happy, and productive.  We say to ourselves that if we live right we won’t die.  Not at least until we’re ready.  We live hoping that first lie somehow is truth.  But it’s not.  We all die.  But we’re supposed to have joy.  We’re supposed to have peace.  We’re supposed to..?  There will come a point when all that is tested in our lives.  A point perhaps when it all seems like hollow words.  How do we find joy in sadness?  Gladness in sorrow?  Peace in war?  “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh, my soul, rejoice.”  Laurie Klein didn’t write those words in a time of joy and happiness.  She wrote them out of despair.  She wrote them looking for God and the peace He promises.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.”  God didn’t command that for Him.  He commanded it for us.  Because it’s the link between our hearts and His.  For some, today is the happiest day of their lives.  For some, today is gonna be tough.  And for some it’s just another day filled with work, commutes, sunshine, rain, arguments, and whatever the case may be.  Through it all we are to love the Lord.  But how?  I’ve never seen God, and I bet you haven’t either.  Or have we?  Are we not surrounded by His creation?  Have we not seen the miracle of new life born into this world?  Didn’t He say that He made us in His image?  Maybe that’s why when Jesus listed Deuteronomy 5:6 as the greatest law, He said that the second was like it.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31b  But it’s in loving our neighbors that we are hurt so much.  Hurt by words, actions, and loss.  However, it’s also in love that we are healed.  Healed by words of love, actions of love, and the Cross of love.  We may die.  But so did God.  He couldn’t bear for us to die alone.  So He gave up His life so that we could join Him in the resurrection.  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13  That’s what Jesus did for you and me.  That’s how He promises so much more.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.”  Cause He loves you so much more than that!

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, April 16, 2013

Take This

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength
Just keep keep breathing?
Oh, I need you
God, I need you now.
[From the song Need You Now (How Many Times) by the band Plumb]

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him.  Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  1 Corinthians 15:22-25

Don:  “to wrap oneself in”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

To be sure, I had to check the news headlines this morning before writing this.  Simply to make sure that during the night more atrocities hand’t taken place.  Of course you know the answer.  Of course there were atrocities reported.  There is sickness in this world.  There are people who hate others for simply being alive.  There are people who’s goal it is to destroy life, peace, and happiness.  It’s still not known who bombed the Boston Marathon, but whoever did, is not well.  And does it really matter who did it?  It does in the sense that we value justice and protection.  It does in the sense that we want to rid our streets of as many murderers and terrorists as possible.  It does in the sense that we want to keep our neighborhoods safe from future threats.  But there will be more.  There will be persistence.  Death will continue.  Evil will persevere in the persecution of this world and this life.  That’s why we cry out, “God please take this.”  We search for comfort in the face of hardship.  We search for meaning in the presence of confusion.  We search for leadership...  But we’re all just guessing.  Adrift on the ocean of humanity we look for destiny and purpose.  There is but one true north we can set our compass towards.  The one who said, “I am the way the truth and the life.”  John 14:6  There is but one in whom we can rest.  The one who said, “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28  There is but one who can heal.  The one of whom we put our trust and say, “For we know, all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28  There is but one who can save.  The one of whom is said, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”  Revelation 5:12  As I write it came through the newswire that 40 people are reported dead in an earthquake in Iran.  “God please take this.”  Death and suffering is not something we were designed for.  If it were, our hearts wouldn’t break.  But since sin entered this world, they’re something we must live with.  The only thing that can assuage their sting, is what we live for.  Rather WHO we live for.  Because it’s in WHO we live for that determines what we live for.  As good as it may sound, we don’t live for one another.  Not even our children.  We must live for Jesus.  He’s the oxygen mask we must don first, in order that we may help others.  God will take this.  He has taken this.  It’s through God's Son on the Cross that we have hope of a better future; a perfect future.  A life of continual joy void of suffering and hardship.  The work was done when Jesus proclaimed, “‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  John 19:30  Let us grasp hold of that truth, of that everlasting love.  That while we invited imperfection and evil into our lives, He interceded with His own life as the ultimate and only worth sacrifice.  In order that the devil might be crushed and death might be forever beaten.  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4-7

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, April 15, 2013

Turning Off The Light

“Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter - you are just there in front of the fire.  You don’t have to be smart or anything.  The fire warms you.”  Desmond Tutu

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23

Quell:  “to suppress; put an end to; extinguish”  Dictionary.com

This morning as I look out the window, I’m predicting that it’s gonna be a beautiful day.  Not because I’ve seen the weather report, looked at the weather app on my phone, or see a magnificent sunrise.  I may be wrong, but I’m predicting that it’s going to be a nice day, because right now I can barely see the trees on the other side of the street due to a blanket of fog in the valley where I live.  I know the weather may not be the same where you are, but I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sort of thing.  So you know what I’m talking about.  You know that fog often lifts to reveal beauty only a loving God could create.  God is often like that.  Rather, life is often like that.  The rays of God’s love are not always blazing through our hearts.  There are times of fogginess and murkiness.  Sometimes the outlook on life is bleak, and the joy of life is fleeting.  If that is the case for you, right now is the time to grow in faith and in knowledge.  Right now is the time to seek the joy only God can give.  Take for example the flora and fauna that make up our forests and plains.  The plants we enjoy so much often grow the most in the darkness of night.  It’s that darkness that causes them to reach out their branches and leaves in search for the sun.  But does the plant ever find the sun?  No, no matter how hard the plant tries, it can never reveal the source of its energy.  But every morning the sun is faithfully revealed.  The growth that occurred during the night now ensures that an even greater amount of energy can be absorbed.  And so it is with our spiritual life.  Can we ever reveal the power of God on our own?  No, no matter how hard we try we cannot reveal the source of our life.  However, His glory is real, and it is faithful.  There are times when His love is obscured by a fog of doubt, a night of sorrow, an overcast of guilt, or even a shadow of death.  But it’s still there, it will be revealed.  We can’t reveal His love with our own power any more than we can make the sun rise.  However, we can grow in faith and knowledge.  So that when the light of His love comes streaming through our hearts once again we are more able than ever to receive it.  To be energized by it.  To bask in the joy of its presence all the more; thankful for its life giving power.  No, we can’t force God’s love on our lives, but we can build the receptors of His love in our hearts.  And sadly, while we don’t have the power to turn on His love, we do have the power to reject it.  Often it’s not God’s love that is missing, rather us who have quelled it.  Like the sun, we can’t turn off its rays.  However, we can build a shelter to give us shade.  Are we sheltering ourselves of His love?  I pray that if we have, we gain the courage to remove it.  It’s only by removing the barriers that we’ve built and by seeking with all our hearts that we can enjoy the full potential of His life giving love.  His love is faithful and sure, but we must seek it, we must allow it, we must want it for our lives.  For all of us there will be an end to the cycle of night and day, of love and sorrow, of joy and fear.  For most of us that end will be what many of us ultimately fear.  But there is a promise of more, of greater, of ultimate reality.  A reality without the cycles of today’s life.  A reality of constant sun, constant life, constant joy, constant God.  Jesus says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20  Whether we’re a Christian or an Atheist, a Hindu or a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew; we all want God’s love in our lives.  We don’t have to be smart or anything, let’s just open the door to it.  The light of His love is waiting to shine through.

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, April 12, 2013

Thank God it's Friday!

“Thank God it’s Friday!”  Everyone

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Holy:  “having a divine quality”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

It is Friday as I write this,  and thank God for it.  But why do we thank God for Fridays?  Obviously it’s because it’s the day before the weekend.  The last day of the work week.  The day when we most clearly see a break ahead.  Well, for most anyway.  God ordained breaks.  Right after He finished writing in stone how men were supposed to worship Him, He said in essence, “Take a break.”  God said to take at least one day a week off of work.  I grew up in a church that strictly observed the Sabbath day.  We weren’t supposed to work, or play, or think like we did the other days of the week.  We went to church, we fellowshipped with the church body, and we kept the day holy.  And it was a blessing.  However, as Christians, Jesus moved us beyond keeping one day a week holy.  As Christians every day is holy and set apart for the LORD’s work.  Our righteousness is not found in a sabbath break, but in Jesus.  Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27  It was meant, not to be a blessing to God, but a way in which we are blessed by God.  I no longer set aside a particular day to worship, like I grew up doing.  However, like most westerners I do set aside at least one day to take a break.  Or do I?  It’s funny how work is the hardest thing to give up.  Worshipping for many is no problem.  But taking a break from work somehow is.  On our days off work, do we work harder on our house than our job?  Sometimes I do.  To be honest, that’s not very often (I have a very large lazy bone).  But it does happen.  If we’re honest, there are times when going back to work seems like a break from the weekend.  I’m not going to say that if you don’t have a day in which you don’t labor at all, you’re wrong.  However, I will say that we all need a break, a rest, a “sabbath.”  Which in its lower case form simply means, “a time of rest,” according the the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  So today, let’s thank God for ordaining rest.  Whether we have this weekend off or not.  Let’s look forward to our days off, and truly take them off.  And let’s thank Jesus for being our rest from sin.  The Sabbath day was always meant to be a symbol of rest from sin.  The grace bore out on the Cross washes us clean of it.  In that way, in Christ, we enjoy a Sabbath every day we live.  So we can thank God it’s Friday, and thank God it’s monday.

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, April 11, 2013

Distractions and Reality

“God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are.”  Billy Graham

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8

Lilt:  “rhythmic swing or cadence”  Dictionary.com

Distractions...  I just spent 45 minutes looking at podcasting microphones on the internet.  Someday I think it might be cool to do a podcast, but that’s not what I’m trying to accomplish this morning.  It was a distraction from what my first priority for this morning was.  To get a message out to you.  But thank goodness.  Everything seems to work out the way it should.  Yes, comparing microphones on my iPad may have been a distraction, but it also gave me a subject.  That being...  Distractions of course.  How often are we distracted from what we should be doing in our lives?  Probably quite a bit.  To answer that however, we need to know what our main objective should be.  Why are we here?  To answer that let’s look at our creator and what He’s done for us.  Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross.”  So why are we here?  The joy of our Maker.  Great, now my dog just threw up all over the floor.  Another distraction!  With that in mind, I want to talk about a couple types of distractions.  I’ll call them “volunteer,” and “imposed.”  Volunteer distractions are like the one I experienced this morning comparing microphones.  Imposed being like the dog puke I just cleaned up.  We’ll all experience both types every day.  They don’t even have to include our physical bodies.  They can remain incapsulated in our minds.  You may have just experienced a few while reading this.  The point I want to make today, is not that distractions are bad and should be avoided.  Rather, what we do with our distractions and what we do during our distractions.  I’ve heard it said that we should always be able to respond to Jesus.  In other words, we should nurture our relationship with God, just like we would a spouse or family member.  We are here for the joy of Christ Every relationship we have is ultimately to provide joy and happiness.  Our relationship with God is no different.  We are in a relationship with Him whether we like it or not.  But it’s through a nurturing of that relationship that His joy can be found in our lives.  That joy set before Jesus is reciprocal.  He finds joy with us.  And there is no greater joy than to be with Him.  So whatever is distracting us, whether it imposed upon us, or purely voluntary, let’s remember what life is really about.  Relationship.  Let’s foster and care for our relationships.  Build them into what they should be.  Healthy sources of joy and happiness.  And let’s remember the source of relations and joy.  The One who made us to enjoy them, to enjoy Him.  Our Heavenly Father.  Now let’s go out and enjoy the lilt of life between distractions and reality.  Squirrel!  

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, April 9, 2013

It Changes Everything

“Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.”  Unknown

Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant I made with you when you came out of Egypt.  My Spirit remains in your midst.  Fear not.  Haggai 2:4b-5

Diffident:  “hesitant in acting or speaking throng lack of self-confidence”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

It’s funny how our cat Milly will begin to purr the moment I find her in the morning.  I don’t have to pet her or hold her, just seeing her will get her little cat motor going.  I can’t help but think, that’s kinda how it is with us.  We are meant to be in communion with our Creator.  And when we feel His presence we can’t help but well up with an emotion that doesn’t exist anywhere else.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  John 10:27-30  Not only is Jesus one with the Father, He want’s us to be one with Him.  1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But whosoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.”  Now that doesn’t put us on level with God, but it does bring us into relation with Him.  God may be denied over and over, but there is an undeniable spirit that lives with us.  Some may call it the “universe,” or the “ether,” or “mother nature.”  However, it remains a mystery until we know the love bore out on the cross.  After His death, before He rose to heaven, Jesus promised this, “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised.  But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”  Luke 24:49  Shortly after that the Spirit came down on the apostles in Jerusalem on what is known as the day of Pentecost; and changed everything.  With the Spirit, nothing is the same.  We worship and praise in spirit and we respond to the Spirit’s call.  If you are feeling the call of the Spirit, respond.  It’s the voice of Jesus calling His sheep.  We are His sheep and it is our greatest purpose to hear His voice.  It’s in hearing His voice that we respond in life and in cause.  Want to know how to kick that habit, how to live a godly life, how to live with confidence, peace, and joy?  Respond to His voice.  It changes everything.

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, April 8, 2013

The Hug of Jesus


Lord why me
I don’t know where to go
So Lord take me
My hear wants to explode.
But then I hear Him say
You’ve been 
Running round in circles
Lost in your hurricane
And I’ve been
Next to you the whole time
Cryin out to say My name
And I’ll run to you
You need to feel My love right now
And I’ll comfort you
When everyone has let you down

Excerpt from the song Abandoned by Benjah

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.  John 12:32

Palliate:  “to moderate the intensity of”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What’s going on in your life?  For some the sound of that question initiates a mere shrug.  For others the tears flow.  We all have something in our lives.  Something that is either blessing or breaking us.  The scariest place to be is in the place where we don’t feel anything.  It means we’re not paying attention, or that we’ve numbed ourselves to the reality of life; to the pain and the joys of living.  We’re all God’s children.  Realizing that brings our emotions, our feelings to light.  There is no one who can’t respond to the realization of our Lord and Savior standing by us in the good times and the bad; calling us to call on Him.  As I write this a news flash popped up on my phone letting me know that former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher has died.  For all of us, there is an end to this world in sight.  No matter how great and good a person we may be.  If you can’t see it, you’re not looking.  For some it brings a welcome relief.  For others a frightening prospect.  And for all of us sadness.  Maybe not sadness for the end of our own lives, but certainly sadness at the loss of a loved one.  We live with hurt everyday.  It’s a reality that even our Savior endured.  The shortest verse in the Bible expresses His reaction to a friends death.  “Jesus wept.”  John 11:35  We’ll all weep.  It sucks.  Sometimes we’re even tempted to throw in the proverbial towel and say that life sucks.  In those moments Jesus is there with us.  He’s always with us.  He’s calling us.  He wants to comfort.  He wants shed tears with us.  If you’re not in that place in your life right now.  If life is blessing you with joy and happiness.  Praise the Lord!  He wants to work through you.  For some, His love comes in the form of your arms, embracing a friend.  For others, His comfort comes in the form of your tears, shed with another.  And still for others, He runs to them with your feet, with your words, with your actions.  We are the hands and feet of Christ.  There are times when we are His hugs, His love, and His passion.  If you need comfort, let Jesus comfort you.  If you don’t feel that need.  Be someone's comfort.  Please.  The world needs us wherever we are.  And wherever we are, we need Him.  Let Him work in and through us.  How awesome would it be to one day find out that we were the loving arms of Jesus around a friend in need?  No matter what we’re going through, whether it be happiness, fear, or sorrow; we can work for Him.  We can be the love of the Lord throughout our generation and generations to come.  I’m reminded of the song Pass it On by Dan Britt I learned as a little boy.  “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around, will warm up to its glowing.  That’s how it is with God’s love, once you experience it, it fresh like spring, you want to sing, you want to pass it on.”  Let’s accept that love into our hearts.  We’re sure to pass it on.
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, April 5, 2013

Standing Firm


“You can tell what kind of person someone is, by what they don’t do.”  Ryan Deal

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  1 Corinthians 2:6-7

Arbitrate:  “to submit or refer a decision to an arbiter”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As a Christian, as a person who holds to values, as a person in general, you will be accused of being judgmental at times.  Never let that sway your morality.  Never let that sway your morality.  Will we be judgmental?  Yes.  Is that wrong.  Often times no.  As a Christian especially, we’re often reminded that we shouldn’t judge.  That Jesus said not to judge other people.  Here’s what Jesus said about judgement.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck form your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5  Jesus didn’t say not to judge.  He said not to be a hypocrite.  There is a difference.  The unwillingness or inability to judge merely shows that we lack a moral compass.  But this message is not about how to judge correctly.  It’s about standing for upright values.  Often times people don’t want us to judge because they want us to do something we don’t feel right doing.  It’s called peer pressure.  Remember that phrase from school?  Peer pressure is responsible for many a downfall.  And it often comes with, “Who are you to judge?  Do you think your better than me?”  We are all children of God and non of use should feel superior to another, but there is such a thing as morality, and it takes judgement to discern it.  We all value sound judgement.  However, we all hate being judged.  And we all have areas that could use a little judgment now and again.  Just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we can’t strive to do what’s right and stand up for our values.  Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28  It’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna be tiresome, it’s gonna be work to live for Christ.  We’ll be called all sorts of things.  We’ll be made fun of.  We’ll be shunned.  But rest is in Jesus.  He’s the ultimate Arbiter.  As well as the ultimate comforter.  He’ll never call us names, make fun of us, or shun us.  There’s an open door to His kingdom waiting for anyone who would step through.  Then He’ll call us by our rightful names, “Sons and daughters of God.”  Then He’ll praise us and draw us near to Him.  Isn’t that good news?  Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight.”  It’ll take a fight on our part.  But hold fast to the grace and the love of God.  Let’s keep our focus on the Cross.  The reward is worth the cost.

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, April 4, 2013

All I Long For


Fly me to the moon
Let me swing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing forever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

Why don’t you fill my heart with song?
Let me swing forever more
Because you are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true
In other words
In other words, I, love, you

From the song Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.”  God  Exodus 20:2-3

Perfidious:  “deliberately faithless; treacherous; deceitful”  Dictionary.com

The first commandment from God is that we shall have no other gods before Him.  I once heard a comedian make fun of that fact, saying that thou shall not murder should obviously be the first commandment.  He went on to say that any other god would have put thou shall not murder first.  Obviously.  Funny he should say that.  Because at the time the other “gods” commanded their followers to sacrifice children to them.  It follows that any other god would not even list “thou shall not murder in their list of commands.”  Now let’s think about the Frank Sinatra song.  One of the most popular of all time.  Musical genius.  But what is it exclaiming?  “You’re all I long for, worship and adore.”  Who’s that about?  I don’t know who the writer was referring to, but here’s where the lyrics fit perfectly.  They’re a perfect psalm to our Maker.  At the end of this life we all want God to fly us to the moon.  Show us all creation in its glory.  Show us the intricacies of physics, and suns, and moons.  Our prayer is that He hold our hands.  That He be true.  He will be true.  He will grant His promises.  He will fill our hearts with song.  He is no perfidious God.  No treacherous lover of our souls.  No deceitful Father.  Let’s do our part.  Let’s worship and adore the one worthy of longing for.  Let’s love Him.  Let’s live a life as true to Him as a human can.  Then prepare to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.  That, and so, so much more.  In other words, He says, I love 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

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blessed, Because He Lives!

“Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.”  George Bernard Shaw

And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  Luke 22:19-20

Repine:  “to feel or express dejection or discontent”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Ever forget what the Lord is providing in your life?  I know I sure do.  If I could just realize everything that the Lord is providing I would be the most thankful person alive.  But we forget that God provides.  We fall into the trap of normality.  That is, God’s provisions become a normal part of life and lose their divinity and miraculous nature.  I was reading this morning about the when the Israelites grew tired of their mana.  They cried out to Moses and to God for meat to eat.  They forgot the miracle of mana and began seeing it as a normal everyday occurrence.  They began to repine in the miraculous presence of God.  So God answered their call.  He gave them meat to eat, in the form of quail.  That was a miracle too, but this time the miracle came with a curse.  It came with the anger of God.  The people who forgot God’s miraculous gifts and craved meat died from the very thing they desired so deeply.  Have you ever been punished through the reception of what you desired.  I know it’s cliche, but not everything we want is desirable.  Some people want to sleep with more than one partner.  Not going to turn out well, I promise.  Some people desire to be “like the Jones’.”  They’re gonna go broke.  Some people want to do everything for themselves.  Believing in the so called American virtue of “Self-Reliance.”  Downfall is in sight.  Self-Reliance will only take you as far as your abilities can provide.  Trust me, that’s not very far.  In no way am I saying you should rely on others to provide for you.  In that respect I’m a big fan of self-reliance.  My point is that when we forget about God, we start believing we’re responsible for the blessings in our lives.  And sometimes we even start believing we’re a blessing to others as well.  Only through the power and the grace of God can we be blessed or be a blessing to anything.  So we go to church, we’re moved by a sermon or two.  We call ourselves Christians.  But do we live like it?  Does church really make a difference?  I’ve heard it over and over.  “I tried church, it didn’t really work for me.”  Is church working for you?  Of course not.  The “church” can’t do anything for you.  Often it’s not the presence of God that works miracles, it’s a relationship with Him.  Remember when JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country?”  While God is providing for all your needs, He’s not interested in providing for all your desires.  Not at least without a relationship.  He wants you to be a part of spreading His blessing too.  I think there are too many people who go to church to get blessed.  If you’re that person I want to ask you a couple questions.  What kind of car do you drive?  What kind of house do you live in?  Maybe they’re not the best, but they’re better than many.  Church is a blessing for sure.  We should all seek to be blessed in the presence of God.  But we should also seek a relationship with Him.  That’s what it means to be a Christian.  Christianity is not a weekend thing, it’s a continual thing; like a marriage.  The Christian life will come with hardships and struggles.  It will come with sorrow and despair at times.  But it is also rich in blessing.  Every day God provides mana in your life.  See it.  Be thankful.  I guarantee that thankfulness will lead to more blessings.  That ability to see them will open our eyes to see more and more.  And what’s more.  The blessed life is a contagious life.  Want to be a blessing?  See your blessings.  Be thankful for what you have.  Contentment is the key to riches.  God is able to bring the greatest joy to the darkest hour.  I’m reminded of the that famous hymn Because He Lives by Bill and Gloria Gaither, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.  Because I know, He holds the future.  And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”  He lives, it’s a miracle!  A miracle we live with daily.  Isn’t that good news?!

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, April 2, 2013

The Strength of Three, The Purpose of Four

Exposed beyond the shadows
You take the cup from me
Your dirt removes my blindness
Your pain becomes my peace

If I was not so weak
If I was not so cold
If I was not so scared of being broken
Growing old
I would be
I would be
I would be

Frail...
Excerpt from the song Frail by the Jars of Clay

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.  We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Having said these things, He spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva.  Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means sent).  So he went and washed and came back seeing.  John 9:1-7

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Opaque:  “hard to understand or explain”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The strength in Jesus is not found in power.  It’s not found in authority.  It’s not found in influence.  It’s found in humility.  That humility bows our knee to His authority.  It instills in us a desire to serve.  It removes our pride.  However, the strength found in humbly serving Jesus does not humiliate.  It does not make us timid.  It does not weaken our confidence.  There are things we are not meant to understand fully.  Not yet, at least.  Things that confound the wisest and confuse the knowledgeable.  Those things are covered in a faith bolstered by what we can see.  A faith founded on evidence that cannot be denied.  Every year science books are edited for accuracy to stay relevant.  The Bible has never been corrected, yet remains perfectly relevant in its entirety.  The intricacies of creation demand a designer.  Just as do the windings of a watch.  And the love felt from the Spirit is an undeniable experience, greater than any love we can experience in humanity.  Nothing can bring us to our knees, cause us to worship, or bring tears to our eyes, like the experience of God.  It’s a multi-faceted experience.  Our faith is built on the foundation of three.  There is power in three.  A stool could not stand without at least three legs.  Pyramids gain their strength from three.  And our government builds trust through its three branches.  So it is with God.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  John starts his Gospel with this verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  He went on to say, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:1;14  There is power in three.  However, a structure requires four.  That fourth part is you and I.  There’s a confidence in knowing that.  Confidence that doesn’t come from anywhere else.  No, it’s not the only confidence we can have.  But it’s confidence unlike any other.  Knowing that we are part of the plan.  That we have a purpose for our Creator.  For the Word.  For the Spirit.  For God!  They are one, and we can be one with Him as well.  Is that confusing?  Yes.  What exactly does it look like?  I don’t know.  What I do know is this.  Without it, we are frail.  One day the opaqueness and the blindness will be washed away.  We will see fully.  However, even now we can see glimpses.  How?  Through love.  The love of Jesus, and the love we have for Him.  No relational bond can be explained without love.  So it is with God.  His love is the light of this world.  His love opens eyes.  His love strengthens.  Through His love we can be healed.  We can be made new.  We can be given sight.  “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  Psalm 119:105 

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