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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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thank God For Cloudy Mornings


“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”  Audrey Hepburn

From the LORD comes deliverance.  May your blessings be on your people. Selah.  Psalm 3:8

Esse:  “Being; existence”  Dictionary.com

Thank God for cloudy mornings!  And I don’t mean that in a slightly vain way because I love cloudy mornings.  In fact, I love a bright and sunny morning.  The other day as Whitney and I were taking the dogs for a morning walk she told me how much she loved the cloudy mornings.  They’re coolness and reprieve from the heat of summer days.  She’s right, when the mornings are cool and cloudy our un-air-conditioned house stays much cooler throughout the day.  I agreed with her on that point, however, I’m a little different.  I love to be woken up by a blue sky and the sun streaking through the treetops calling nature to wake up like songbird on a wire.  Fast forward a couple days.  I’m watching the news.  They’re talking about the fires in central Washington and Oregon east of us and how lucky we are that the weather patterns are coming from the west where the ocean air brings moisture and cool air.  The very same air that creates the overcast mornings my wife has been enjoying so much.  Sometimes what’s enjoyable for us means death for another; literally.  And while we shouldn’t let the bad things in life control our lives and our happiness, we should be aware that what we want, what we like, isn’t always what the world needs.  But I know you already knew that.  So here’s the larger lesson.  Look for ways some of the things you don’t enjoy actually help the world around us.  I know I’m much more thankful for cloudy mornings now than I was before.  They may not be my favorite type of morning, but for those in the path of a wildfire, they’re a grift from God.  And we should always be thankful for God’s gifts, no matter what they look like.  They provide for the esse of life.

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, July 25, 2013

The Rock

“The Lord is my Rock
And I won’t be afraid
No, I won’t be afraid
You’re with me”
Excerpt from the song The Lord Is My Rock by Elevation Worship

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  Psalm 62:6

Monolith:  “an organized whole that acts as a single unified powerful or influential force”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Do you know how often God is referred to as a “Rock” in the Bible?  A bunch.  I could have picked from dozens of verses for today’s message.  A rock is about the most stable thing we know of.  Buildings made from stone have stood the test of centuries.  Rocks have become famous in their stature and fortitude.  Who doesn’t know of a famous monolith of stone?  The rock of Gibraltar, El Capitan, even Plymouth Rock.  We look to stone for it’s longevity and steadfastness.  In literary terms there is nothing more stable.  And so, from time to time, God chose to use them as a metaphor for describing Himself.  That’s why Jesus is called the cornerstone.  In antiquity, builders would lay a cornerstone around which all the measurements and layouts of a building would me sourced from.  It was most important stone in any building.   Without a solid cornerstone a building didn’t stand a chance of withstanding the test of time.  In the age of concrete and steel, we don’t rely on cornerstones so much anymore.  But every building has a footing.  It’s where the shape of any structure begins and if you could see the footings your house is built on, you would see that they bear almost all the weight of your entire home.  When I built houses, I could always tell when a footing was poorly laid.  The entire house, although structurally sound became more difficult to build.  That’s how our lives are.  The foundation of our character, the footing for our souls, impacts every part of our lives.  Any imperfection in our foundation will be felt in every aspect of our lives.  That’s why it is foolish to build our lives around our own wisdom.  Look at the humanity.  It’s easy to see that our wisdom fails.  It is so important that we build our lives around perfection.  When Jesus said He was the cornerstone and then died on the cross, He laid Himself out to be our foundation.  And so, we must treat Him that way.  He must be the cornerstone, the foundation, the footing, from which our lives are built.  We mess up too easily as it is.  We can’t afford to start off on a faulty footing.   The Lord must be our Rock.

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, July 24, 2013

A Heart For Jesus


“Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ.  The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.  It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him.  The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him.  We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles.  Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”  Oswald Chambers

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.  Romans 9:16

Venal:  “capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Can you believe people?  We do the right things for the wrong reasons.  We do the wrong things for the right reasons.  And we do nothing out of the fear of failure.  So what should we do?  We can’t help but inject our human pride into everything we try to accomplish.  Everything we do becomes corrupted by venality at some point.  We can’t do anything perfectly.  I can’t help but think of the hymn by Hellen H. Lemmel that states in its refrain, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful gaze, and the things of earth shall grow strangely dim, at the light of His glory and grace.”  We’ll never completely lose ourselves in working for the Lord.  We’ll never be able to perfect our actions for Him.  However, we can be carried by Him, when we put the full weight of our trust on His shoulders.  We are not the authors and perfecters of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2), He is.  We cannot make a burden light (see Matthew 11:30), He can.  And in our humanity we are not the light of the world (see John 8:12), Jesus is.  So what are we?  We are the joy that Christ died for (see Hebrews 12:2).  We are the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12).  We are the children of God.  And like any child, perfection is not what’s required of us.  Rather, our love is what is desired most.  Maybe that’s why Peter said, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8  And that’s the answer, isn’t it.  To love.  In love we follow Jesus more completely.  In love we serve more genuinely.  In love we feel His presence more fully.  In Jesus, whatever we do becomes a act of the heart more than anything, because in Jesus our life is not so much about what we do, but about where are heart is.  And at the same time, our heart drives our actions more than anything else can.  Above all, let’s have a heart for our Creator.

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, July 22, 2013

God's Hand


“Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people who are no smarter than you.”  Steve Jobs

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Interpose:  “to bring (influence, action, etc.) to bear between parties, or on behalf of a party or person.”  Dictionary.com

Sometimes it’s not so easy to see God in our lives.  Sometimes He doesn’t seem to be present or available.  Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if He cares, or even exists.  But do you know what’s even easier?  Ignoring Him while He’s present.  Speaking for myself, I often miss the signs that He’s near.  I often disregard the way He works in my life.  I often pass off His miracles for coincidences or facts of nature.  Take for example the cup of coffee I had this morning.  I needed it!  I often, or should I say, always need a cup of coffee in the morning before I feel like I can really get going.  Now let’s go back to this years season of Lent.  It was my first time observing it, and it had a profound impact on my life and how I view Jesus and God’s grace.  This past year for Lent I chose to give up drinking anything but water.  That means no coffee.  I specifically chose to give up those things because I felt I relied on coffee and wanted to give that reliance up to God.  An amazing thing happened.  Not once did I need a cup of coffee.  In fact I had more energy than I had had in a long time.  It was a miracle.  But what did I do with the miracle.  I chalked it up to a physiological learning experience.  I talked about how caffeine doesn’t really help with energy.  That it merely creates a vicious circle of reliance that it seems impossible to break free of.  I forgot that I specifically asked God to give me energy and that He fulfilled my need.  During those forty days of Lenten fasting I did not need coffee, or any other type of stimulant.  I had energy to spare.  This morning, I needed coffee, just like every other morning.  How many miracles go un-noticed in our lives?  We read the Bible and want to strangle the people we see clearly turning away from God, while at the same time we don’t even consider that God could possibly be wielding His power in our lives.  Many believers disparage atheists for ever thinking that the world could come into being without a God, while we refuse to believe God could have a purpose for our lives.  We pass on His purpose to missionaries, evangelists, or our pastor and don’t see that He is calling us as well.  If you believe in God and that He sent His Son to die for our sins on a cross, and that on the third day He rose from the grave to ensure our salvation, YOU ARE CALLED.  He is working in your life.  He is performing miracles as you read this.  He is still God.  And He is in control.  If we could just move past our power-tripped human ego we could see that there is so much more at work than coincidence and physics.  God is at work.  His love is at work in our lives, whether we choose to see it or not.  When God told the Israelites, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”  He told them through the prophet Jeremiah while they we’re exiled in Babylon.  It came in the midst of a message that they should be content to be prisoners of the Babylonians.  That in their hardship, He was near.  It came right after the famous promise, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  Jeremiah 29:11  So whatever is going on in our lives.  God is there.  He is able to bring joy in the darkest circumstances and peace in the most troubling times.  And when He does, may we pray that we don’t miss the miracle He’s worked in our lives.  And if I may add to what Steve Jobs said about life.  Everything around us we call life may have been made by people no smarter than us, but it was made with the guidance of God’s hand.  

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, July 19, 2013

He First Loved Us


“You will never touch the soul of a person until you understand their hurts.”  Ravi Zacharias 

He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?  How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!  So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Matthew 12:11

Drudge:  “to do hard, menial, or monotonous work”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Ever come across a Christian who has all the time in the world for God, but no time for you, or anyone else for that matter.  Perhaps they volunteer, but it’s out of a sort of obligatory service.  They serve on a schedule and no more.  Maybe you and I are that way sometimes (I know I am.)    We get up early to be with God.  We go to church to be with God and His people.  We volunteer every couple weeks, maybe.  But we also pass by people who need our help everyday.  We essentially refuse to do the drudging work of God.  Forgetting that we are called to be bond servants just as Jesus became a bondservant for us.  (See Philippians 2:7)  We forget that there’s no better way to be with God than to be of service to people.  The Bible says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8  Serving is love in action.  Yes, so is reading the Bible and praying.  However, those things should be working in our hearts to lead us to know how to love like our Father.  We could be worshiping God all day long, but if it’s not translating to love for others there’s something wrong with our worship.  By all means, worship.  It’s how we get to know God.  However, let’s never let our worship get in the way of the point of it all.  That is to, “Love like He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19b

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, July 18, 2013

God Is Answering


“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”  Albert Einstein 

“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”  God - Isaiah 65:24

Meld:  “merge, blend”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Can you believe this?”
“Out of coffee on one of the busiest coffee days of the year.”
That’s what Josh was saying in his mind as he poured one of his last cups of coffee left.
“God will provide.”
He heard a customer say in line a few people back.
“Ya, I wish.”
Was the reply he gave in his mind.
“Can God provide coffee to a coffee house out of coffee the morning after thanksgiving day?”
Josh had to ask the question.
He had been raised a believer but had never really grasped hold of his faith in a meaningful or powerful way.  He simply believed, but had’t applied that belief to his life.
“I know God has the power to do some cool stuff at church, and He did some astonishing things in the Bible, but that’s church, and that’s the Bible.  Can God do something for me?  For this coffee house?  I don’t know if He’d even want to.”
“And then again, why would He do something for me.  Do I even deserve His death or His help?”
Ok, so now those things in church He heard as a kid were coming back.  Now Josh’s mind was wading into something deeper than God being able to help him out with his coffee problem.  Now his coffee problem was becoming a problem of salvation.  The two were melding into one.  In that moment Josh decided to try something.  He decided He was going to try to make his little store something big for God.  What it would look like he didn’t know.  All he knew at the moment is that he wasn’t gonna call it “Holy Grounds.”  The coffee puns were too much for him.  Jokes aside, Josh knew this was a turning point in his life and in his business.  Maybe it would be the end of coffee for him.  Maybe it would be the beginning of something greater.
“That is an outstanding cup of coffee, what’s your secret?”
“Oh, I have this special way of brewing I came up with that seems to smooth out the flavors in the roast.  I’ve had a lot of success with it.  First I...”
Josh’s words couldn’t get out quick enough.
“How would you like to try some of my beans?  I have a few sacks in the back of my van I wanted to deliver to some shops in the area as a test run.  I’m starting a new roasting company called ‘Bean Saved.’  I’d love to talk to you about it sometime.”
“Oh, and do you know 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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

Though none go with me, still I will follow
Though none go with me, still I will follow
Though none go with me, still I will follow
No turning back, no turning back

The Cross before me, the world behind me
The Cross before me, the world behind me
The Cross before me, the world behind me
No turning back, no turning back

From the song, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus - Author unknown

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:17

Resplendent:  “shining brilliantly : characterized by a glowing splendor”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

If you remember, yesterday I ended with a quote from the old hymn, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.  What a great line!  It’s moved people closer to Jesus for decades.  And I’m sure it was written from a heart close to our Savior.  I wanted to tell you the story behind the song.  A story of persecution and suffering.  We all like to hear how God moves in our lives and our hearts.  However, the fact is, I don’t know the story.  Sure, I could repeat to you what I found on the internet.  But I have no way of verifying the sources, and I don’t want to mislead you, even if it’s an innocent mistake.  And besides, there is a greater lesson to be learned.  The lesson is in the songs lyrics, not its history.  We know the song is from India and that it came from a conversion experience.  But what if it were written by a wealthy guy in Europe or America?  Would that make the words less valuable?  Following Jesus is what really matters.  And in following Him we will be abandoned by friends at times.  But God asks us to put Him first.  That means the Cross must go before us.  That means that many of the things of the world will be left behind.  And so it doesn’t really matter, the source of the song, or for that matter, the song itself.  What matters is our heart.  Do we follow Jesus with all our hearts?  The decision to follow Jesus is a resplendent one indeed.

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, July 16, 2013

God Is Good


“Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart.”  Henry Ward Beecher

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  2 Peter 1: 3-4

Dissolution:  “termination or destruction by breaking down, disrupting, or dispersing”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

God truly is good.  He’s the Lord of all creation and He loves you more than you could ever love Him.  Sometimes we feel His love when we see a beautiful sunrise or enjoy a calm a relaxing evening.  Often we feel it at the sight of a newborn baby or the scent of a sweet smelling flower.  We call those things beautiful and we’re thankful for it.  But what’s the point of beauty?  Some would say that beauty’s role is to attract us to what is good and what can give us the ability to survive.  That evolution gave us an attraction to life and we call it beauty.  I agree with that statement.  But, for different reasons.  We are naturally attracted to life.  However, there are many beautiful things that bring death.  We see it every day.  Storms can be beautiful if you’re not in their destructive path.  Beautiful blooms often erupt from poisonous vegetation.  Even humanity uses its beauty to deceive, corrupt, and destroy.  So it couldn’t have been evolution that gave us beauty.  In that case we’d all be dead.  No, it had to be a loving Creator.  But why would a loving God create beauty in the things that can destroy us?  Sex, poison, passion.  They all can come wrapped neatly in a beautiful little package filled with deadly intentions.  Choice, will, knowledge.  They’re a few of the reasons beauty is corrupted.  With choice comes challenge.  With will comes regret.  And with knowledge comes the power to make mistakes.  As so, beauty attracts us.  But it isn’t always the life in beauty we’re attracted to.  It’s often beauty that we must refuse.  Because it’s often that beauty is meant to be a challenge to overcome.  However, there is a beauty that is the source of life.  The agape, the unconditional love of God.  In its proper place we can see that all beauty is manifest by our Creator.  In its proper place we can enjoy all that God has given us.  And in its proper place we can thank Him for everything He’s blessed us with.  And we can, because of that ugly but beautiful event a little over 2 thousand years ago.  An event ultimately ugly to behold, but amazingly beautiful to experience.  Christ’s death on the Cross, however nasty, has the power to dissolution the death so often inherent in beauty.  Because it has the power to forgive sin and give us life in the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did that for us.  And it’s through the rose colored glasses provided by the Gospel that all things can become more beautiful than they ever could before.  Want to experience beauty the way it was intended?  Look to Jesus.  He created a perfect world for us.  But at the same time He gave us choice.  And it’s through choice that we brought corruption to it.  And it’s through His sacrifice that He struck the death blow to that corruption, so that beauty can once again be perfected.  It’s because of that I find beauty in the words of the old hymn, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  I hope you find them beautiful too.

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, July 15, 2013

Godly Disposition


“Doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.”  George MacDonald

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:13-15

Disposition:  “the tendency of something to act in a certain manner under given circumstances”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

How do we know we’re in the will of God?  I’ve heard it said by Steven Furtick, the pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte North Carolina, that unless the Bible directly states it, the most sure we’ll ever feel that God has spoken to us, is about 65 percent.  He wasn’t trying to be exactly accurate in his statement.  He was making the point that generally we’ll never be absolutely sure if what we feel is from God.  We’ll never be absolutely sure if the move we’re about to make is what God wants us to do.  We’ll never be absolutely sure whether the missed flight was a coincidence or the Hand of God.  What we can be sure of is that God has a will and purpose for our lives.  Does He have a purpose for everybody?  My gut tells me yes, but that we have a role in accepting His purpose.  And if you’re at all worried about that purpose, I know He has a purpose for you.  How do we know what that purpose is?  All we can do in this life to be assured of our destination is follow Jesus.  It isn’t for us to always know what God has in store for us.  It isn’t for us to always know His exact purpose.  And it isn’t for us to know at all times what He is doing.  However, we can always be assured of being in the will of God by simply following Jesus.  He has the ability and desire to change our disposition entirely.  That move to Tennessee.  The decision to stay home one day.  The fortunate coincidence.  We can all know that they are the will of God for our lives when we’re following Jesus.  Even the unfortunate events.  Furthermore, there’s a magic that happens when we follow Jesus.  Everything seems to work out.  Ya, we may have had some stuff go wrong.  Stuff that nobody should have to go through.  Stuff that we can’t explain the why too.  And at the same time there’s comfort and assurance that whatever happens will work out for the best.  “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 says.  I know you’ve probably heard the verse a thousand times.  However, today you need it.  Today we all need it.  I know because we all need to remember it at all times, because we all struggle to believe it at times.  Today, if you’re following Jesus and are wondering what you should do next.  Keep following Jesus.  If it’s a question of morality, the Bible says what’s right and wrong.  Follow it.  If it’s a question of what to do, or what course to take, whatever you do, do it for Jesus and I guarantee it will be the right decision.  There are no guarantees in life except the guarantee of God’s love and what it provides.  Let’s put our faith and trust in 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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Commonality With God


“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well beaten path.”  Unknown

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

Quotidian:  “commonplace, ordinary”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Reject commonality.  You are uncommon.  You’re one of a kind.  You’re just what’s needed in this world.  God built you on purpose, for a purpose.  Disagree with any of these statements?  Probably not.  However, most of us don’t live like any of them are true.  We live like we have a place by fitting in.  Unfortunately, we are usually trying to fit into society or culture, instead of fitting into God’s plan.  When we fit in with society, we’re sure to limit ourselves to the role of commonality.  It’s hard to reject commonality.  People will make fun of you.  They’ll tell you that you’re being stupid.  That life hasn't knocked you down yet.  That dreaming big is for jerks and living for the Lord is for goody goodies.  Don’t let anyone keep you from living to your full potential.  God has a plan for you and me.  What that plan is, is for Him to know and us to find out.  But we’ll never find out without following Him.  We’ll never be able to realize our purpose without submitting ourselves to God.  Desire, motivation, drive; they’re all tried and true ways to succeed.  With enough passion we can do just about anything.  That’s why we’ve all heard the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  It’s not a prophecy or motivational quote, it’s simply an observation.  However, all the will power in the world can’t bring happiness.  All the success in the world cannot bring satisfaction.  And all the victories a life can bring, cannot bring peace.  True purpose, true success, true significance can only come with a higher purpose.  A purpose given by our Creator.  Be uncommon.  That’s what we’re called to be.  But in our uncommonness, let’s never forget to seek commonality with 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, July 10, 2013

For The Honor... Remember


“For the honor of the Father, let the cross be lifted high.”  Excerpt from the song For The Honor by Elevation Worship

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.  And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.  When the centurion and those who were with Him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”  Matthew 27:50-51, 54

Enervated:  “lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Was that you, Sully I saw at the waterfront yesterday?”
She asked no one.
It was obvious it couldn’t have been him, but there was a question.  There was a wondering.  A feeling.  It seemed like he was there, but there was no proof, no real evidence.  Other than the most compelling.
In her mind she could still see him.  His face burned badly.  Cringed with pain.  Warm with love.  That was the last time she saw him.  It was an accident on top of the main hill in town.  No one talks about it.  Everyone knows about it.  The sad part is, she couldn’t remember his last words.  Only that he had some.  What kind of friend can’t remember a friend’s last words while they lay dying right in front of you?

“It is finished...”
He said to everyone who would hear.
Sometimes we get the feeling of His presence.  The way the wind blows through the trees.  The way He speaks to us in a still small voice.  At first glance there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence of His presence.  Other than the most compelling.
We all have a picture of that day.  A face bruised and cut almost beyond recognition.  A face filled with pain but portraying more love than we can see anywhere else.  It happened on top of a hill just outside of town.  We’re all afraid t talk about it.  We all know about it.  “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit!.”  Those were His last words.  But they weren’t the last words of a dying man.  Yes, He died, but He also rose again!  He gained victory over death so that we could all experience His blessing.

We all like to call Jesus a friend.  But what kind of friend are we?  Too often we forget what happened to Him.  We don’t like to talk about it, even though we all know about it.  And I’m not just talking about what He did on the Cross.  I’m talking about what He does everyday.  The answered prayers, the safety, the life of another day.  Are we thankful for what He did?  Are we thankful for what He does?  For what He promises to do?  Personally, I forget to thank Him enough.  There are so many days that go by when I forget His blessings, enervated by my unfulfilled desires.  What kind of friend does that?  The kind of friend that is imperfect.  And that’s ok.  Jesus died to save imperfect people.  To bless imperfect people.  A love like His doesn’t make requirements.  It’s only condition is acknowledgement.  Acknowledgement of that love.  And it’s in acknowledgement of His love that our lives are forever changed...  On a daily basis.

“I remember!”
She thought to herself.
“His last words were, ‘Remember.’”
I guess that’s one word but it’s one word she’ll always remember.  Sully wasn’t talking about himself either.  He didn’t desire for her to remember this last moment of him.  Or any other moment with him for that matter.  She knew he was talking about and reminding of his greatest desire for her and all of us.  For us to remember Jesus.  God’s sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

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, July 8, 2013

Earn It


“Go ahead, make my day.”  Harry Callahan from the move Dirty Harry: Sudden Impact

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

Jaded:  “made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience of by surfeit”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Surfeit:  “disgust caused by excess”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

It’s summer, and summer is about fun right?  That’s what we all want to believe.  But have you ever been jaded?  Simply tired and angry?  Ever felt like the world has nothing for you?  I think we all have.  Ever had a tight muscle?  Our first instinct is to rub it, to get it loosened up.  Sometimes that works.  However, often times it’s the opposite of what we need.  Sometimes muscles are tight, not because they’re cramped, but because they’re being pulled by another stronger muscle.  Sometimes the solution to a muscle that feels tight is to loosen what’s affecting it.  And sometimes the tight muscle actually needs to be strengthened.  And so it is with our happiness and satisfaction.  We all know how it feels to have done nothing all day and feel dog tired by sunset.  And we all know what happens then; insomnia sets in.  We’re too tired to want to do anything, but sleep won’t come.  And so it is with joy as well.  We know what it’s like to want to get out and play.  But play no longer satisfies.  Maybe we’re treating the wrong muscle.  Maybe the source of the symptoms is not what it seems.  There is value in earning happiness.  A day of laziness, although sometimes deserved, doesn’t earn us a good night’s sleep.  And constant play doesn’t earn us happiness.  Sometimes a good nights sleep has to be earned with an honest day’s work.  And happiness often comes as a result of struggle.  And there are sometimes when nothing we do can assuage our hurts and pains.  In fact we all have hurts we can’t heal.  For all of us there is a healer.  There is a source of joy.  The joy of the Lord.  It’s a blessing and He wants to give it to us.  Want to know how to get it?  Follow Jesus.  Work for Him.  Put Him first.  That means working honestly at whatever our job is right now.  That means smiling at strangers.  That means praying.  That means sharing love with the world.  Jesus said in John 15:10-12, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”  It’s as simple as that.  Feeling depressed, tired, or lonely?  Want joy?  Love one another as Jesus loves us.  Now it’s summer, and summer is about fun, and so is Jesus.  So let’s follow Him and let’s get some joy.  He is more than able to make all of our days.

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, July 5, 2013

The Truth Of Love


“What is truth?  It is that which conforms to that which actually is.”  Ravi Zacharias 

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat agains that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Jesus - Matthew 7:24-27

Veracity:  “power of conveying or perceiving truth”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Respect yourself: Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and others reminds us it’s okay to be who you are.”  That’s a headline for some featured videos in an email I just received from Youtube.  The thing about it is, it’s not true by anyone’s standards.  Media is constantly bombarding us with messages about being true to ourselves and loving ourselves for who we are.  And we buy it because it sounds good.  And at the same time we’re being sold a product.  No one wants a serial killer to “Be true to themselves.”  No one wants a child predator to “Respect who they are.”  I get that the messaging is in large part meant for the people who feel abused or ostracized by society.  However, what is the message’s true effect?  Does it encourage people to reject values?  And what are values?  And if you’re searching to find yourself, do you think you’ll ever be found?  We just celebrated the Fourth of July here in the United States.  It’s a day in which we celebrate our countries founding and independence.  We’ve been searching to find ourselves as a country since  the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock (perhaps before.)  We debate whether we’re a Christian country, whether our forefathers even cared much about God, and whether our values are worth upholding.  All these questions and wonderings are absolutely impossible to answer without divinity.  Universities have developed mathematical algorithms to determine what a good action would be.  They measure the projected effects of an action and compare the positives to the negatives and then say whether the action is good or bad.  That’s not a bad thing, we all do it, and should do it.  However, it’s a reminder that we are rejecting a foundation of morality.  But societies around the world are stuck, because we can’t admit what that foundation is.  As individuals we’re allowed to have faith and personal core values, but as governments we can’t.  Or at least we say we can’t because we don’t want to discriminate.  However, we all know that discrimination is healthy.  We have to be able to discriminate between right and wrong, safety and danger, or simply day and night.  What we need and what we sometimes lack in our discrimination is the ultimate of values.  That is love.  Sadly, love is often confused with license.  Out of so-called love we say, “Be yourself,” while watching someone destroy their lives.  We would never let a toddler risk their lives out of “Love.”  But we do it every day with people who are, “Searching for themselves.”  Where is the love in letting a little girl join a group of hatchet wielding, face painting, middle aged men?  It happens.  Where’s the love in letting a little boy determine their true gender when they’re not old enough to even know what sex is?  It happens.  And what part of love teaches us to condone the use of drugs that we know destroys important parts of the brain.  That happens too.  Love is not accepting of all things.  We know that in our hearts.  Through love we reject things every day.  However, it’s love that calls us to care for the confused, the broken hearted, and the lost.  It is love through which we stand on the foundation of God and lend a hand to those sinking in the shifting sands of humanity.  Love does not reject people, it rejects sin.  Neither is love spelled A-C-C-E-P-T-A-N-C-E no matter how hard society tries to tell us it is.  There are different types of love, but ultimately love is spelled G-O-D.  The Bible says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:8  So what does love look like?  It looks like God.  So how do we do that?  We start by building our foundation on Him.  How do we do that?  We follow Jesus.

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, July 3, 2013

Slaves


“Legalism seeks to crush people with the standard.  Holiness seeks to call people to the standard.”  From the book Fathering Like The Father by Kenneth O. Gangel and Jeffrey S. Gangel

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!  1 Chronicles 16:34

License:  “freedom that allows or is used with irresponsibility”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

We do what we like
Cause we like what we do

Bound to sin or bound to obey
Either way were both slaves
One kills one saves

If He is righteous and just
And the wages of sin is death
The only way for us to live, is if someone perfect dies for us

Our sin is death
Christ is life
Either way were both slaves
One kills one saves

These are a few excerpts from a song called Surrender by a band from Portland Oregon called Beautiful Eulogy.  The Gospel.  The Gospel!..  It’s the good news of Christ our Savior.  The Good News!..  The good news that, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8  You can take that to the bank.  In Christ’s love we are promised a better place.  Through His love we know our sins, whatever their degree, can be wiped clean.  With people there is always guilt and condemnation.  We don’t know any better.  We don’t have a way of justifying.  We don’t have a way to save.  But with Him our guilt can be deleted, our condemnation can be erased.  Slavery is a fact of life.  It’s our life story.  However, we can choose our master.  One master masquerades as freedom and life, the other offers true life.  One binds us to humanities suffering, the other lifts us to new heights of Godly joy.  One is sin, one is Christ.  “Choose today whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15  It’s the decision that can change a life.  It can change your life.  Make the right decision.

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, July 2, 2013

You Can't Stay Here


“But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, well hold on to you always”
Excerpt from the song There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp

And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21:4-5a

Novel:  “new and not resembling something formerly known or used”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A newborn baby sleeping in your arms.  Puppy breath.  Graduation day!  A beautiful bride and handsome groom.  First grandchild.  Retirement vacations enjoyed.  They’re all things we love.  They’re all things we’re going to remember.  They’re all things things we only get once.  All of life is only lived once.  The list of singular moments literally lasts a lifetime.  However, it seems we live in a replay world.  Miss the score?  Wind it back.  Wanna miss the commercials?  DVR it.  Wanna see Batman save Gotham City again?  You know what to do.  Life comes with its ups and sideways and downs.  There will always be good times and bad.  The past will often seem a little more golden than the present.  We’ll miss the way our greying dog played when they were a puppy.  We’ll long to be able to hold our kids on our laps once more.  Maybe there’s someone’s smile we wish we could see again.  As much as we’d like to, we don’t actually live in a replay world.  Camera’s are capturing life at a staggering rate.  But it’s only the hint of a memory they can preserve.  Moments are fleeting.  Life is progressive.  We can’t stay here.  Right now will be a memory someday.  Perhaps we’d like to be back here again in time.  Live!  Live like right now is a memory you’ll want forever.  Live like your memories really make a difference.  Live like you want to make a better future.  Live like life is never-ending.  Dying is part of life.  However, so is living.  And in Christ there is life everlasting.  The Bible says, “And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  John 17:3  We may never hold our babies again.  We can’t wind back the clock to our graduation or wedding day.  However, there is something so much greater.  The ability to realize a perfect life.  A life where babies don’t cry.  Where the struggles of teenage life don’t exist.  Where death is abolished for good.  I want that life.  And somehow, looking forward to that future seems to assuage the pains of this life.  You can’t stay here.  Good thing, because Christ is preparing a place we can and will want to stay forever.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am 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, July 1, 2013

Not A Moment To Spare

“We grow small trying to be great.”  David Hockney

By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.  Genesis 2:2-3

Deference:  “respect and esteem due a superior or an elder”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Every part of me, well a lot of me anyway, wants to go back to sleep sometimes.  Not even a purple and pink sunrise can make it seem worthwhile to get out of bed.  But we don’t always get up for ourselves.  We get up for work, for kids, for animals, and sometimes for God.  Sleep has a way of drawing us in.  Our bodies and minds need it.  Our life is full of it.  But why?  What about rest do we need?  It doesn’t take long for our bodies to shutdown from lack of sleep.  Why?  Why, when we need energy couldn’t we just eat some more food?  Why do we have to sleep?  I know there is a reason, but this isn’t really about the science of sleep.  This is about our need to rest.  We often fight sleep.  When we were kids we wanted to stay up and watch another movie, or play another game.  As adults we want to be able to get some more work done, or act like a kid.  We’ve even come up with a saying.  “Burning the candle at both ends.”  Too much to do when we’re awake, not enough time to rest.  It seems funny that with all the things we have accomplished, all the buildings we’ve made, books we’ve written, airplanes we’ve flown, we can’t conquer the needs of our bodies.  We were created with limits.  We were created to worship.  There is nothing like a sunset to put you to sleep and nothing better to see than a sunrise when waking.  I know, we are all created differently.  Some would rather not ever see a sunrise.  To some a sunrise is the telltale sign of an awful morning.  To some, going to bed with the sun means missing out on a night full of life.  I won’t argue the merits of going to bed and getting up early.  I’m not sure there are merits to be argued.  However, I will argue that we all need rest.  Even God rested after creation.  On that first seventh day, He had looked at everything He had made and said it was very good.  Then He took a break.  Then we messed up and He hasn't been able to rest since.  But that’s a whole other story.  So what’s my point?  My point is that we should appreciate our limitations.  Sometimes we spend too much time trying to conquer and not enough time trying to appreciate.  There’s nothing wrong with accomplishment.  God calls us to accomplish as much as we can for Him.  However, He also put us in a system that requires us to stop.  He requires that we rest.  And so we might as well enjoy the rest He’s given us.  We might as well enjoy the fact that we haven’t beaten everything.  That sometimes we just have to take a look at the view.  Life comes with moments to spare, too often we live like there are none to be had.  And I’m afraid one day we’ll realize, those moments we thought we couldn’t spare were actually the moments we couldn’t spare.  

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